It wasn’t all that surprising to hear LeBron James go after Charles Barkley the way he did Monday night. But it was rather stunning to hear LeBron take it to such personal levels with his TV nemesis.

Chances are by now you know what LeBron said. He was fed up, pissed off, and had to blow off some steam after the latest round of criticism from Sir Charles.

Barkley clapped at LeBron for recently whining about needing another playmaker—something the sanctimonious Barkley and his boys back in the '80s and '90s would never do. But who among us expected LeBron to clap back like this?

"I’m not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that," LeBron said. "I’m not the one who threw somebody through a window. I never spit on a kid. I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never said, 'I’m not a role model.' I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Vegas all weekend partying. All I’ve done for my entire career is represent the NBA the right way. Fourteen years, never got in trouble. Respected the game. Print that."

That was Petty LeBron, the alter ego of LeBron James we first identified back in June. And quite frankly, we haven’t hid the fact that we love Petty LeBron. He’s the LeBron James that isn’t afraid to take shots at his haters. He’s the LeBron James that has no chill. He’s the LeBron James that fights back. He’s the LeBron James that won’t sit quietly while an inferior tugs at his cape.

Many will say LeBron probably should have taken the high road and let this one go. As the leader of the Cavs and one of the game’s best, he should set the right example, the clichéd talking head would argue. What would M.J. do, they’d probably wonder? I just want to know why it took Petty LeBron so long to rip Barkley a new one?

We’re in the middle of the worst week of the sports calendar and anything that can save us from more Tom Brady/Donald Trump coverage should be considered a win.

Because low-key you can make a pretty strong argument that Barkley deserved this smackdown. What we heard from Sir Charles on Monday is his brand. He’s brash, bold, and loud. He gets paid handsomely to be an instigator. He’s a shit stirrer. A guy who loves to needle the prima donnas and spoiled brats of today’s NBA who have no idea how much more difficult the game was during his heyday in the '80s and '90s. Yeah, I think you can easily mock LeBron for complaining about not having enough playmakers on the roster when they clearly have a bunch of them—what, all of a sudden LeBron wants to be a carbon copy of the Golden State Warriors in the Eastern Conference—but Barkley loves to hammer LeBron, and so many other guys, and sometimes it sounds like he’s just doing it for the hell of it. 

So whose side should you take in this? The truth is there is no winner here. Barkley got in a good shot. LeBron countered with a devastating combo and won this round. I’m guessing the majority of people will probably side with LeBron because, well, he’s LeBron, one of the greatest and in a stratosphere as a player Barkley wishes he resided. I’m sure some think Barkley’s right. I don’t really care. It’s pure entertainment, so I hope the clap backs continue because really I’m just thankful we have something else to write about and debate other than the Super Bowl as we slog toward Sunday. We’re in the middle of the worst week of the sports calendar and anything that can save us from more Tom Brady/Donald Trump coverage should be considered a win.