Colin explains why LeBron James ratchets up his game against the NBA’s next crop of superstars

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Reflecting on the Cleveland Cavaliers' win over the Philadelphia 76ers, Colin Cowherd explains why LeBron James ratchets up his game against the NBA's next crop of superstars like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

- Last night was about Ben Simmons, it wasn't about LeBron. Ben Simmons is a baby. The Sixers are, you know, irrelevant for a decade. It used to be in the NBA, when only a handful of games were on TV, the big-- the superstars, Magic, Kobe, Bird, Michael. The game they really elevated was the TV game on Sunday. But now every game is on TV. Players now skip TV games. But it used to be, when I was a kid growing up, Magic got on TV on Sunday, Bird on TV on Sunday, Ewing on TV on Sunday, MJ on TV on Sunday. It's like, oh no, no, no, they was different.

I mean, they were jumping for loose balls in the first quarter. They were diving into the stands. They were taken more shots. That's what it used to be. But now every game is on TV, so TV doesn't have that kind of impact. Guys skip TV games. They're on TV every night. The games-- once you're established as a superstar. Michael, Kobe, Magic, Bird, Duncan. The ultimate respect is LeBron in the regular season now, and Michael did this, they pick and choose games that matter. And who do they pick and choose? People they respect.

Have you noticed how Lebron's been against Giannis this year? Unbelievable. Shooting over 50% on 3s. 55% feel. 28 a game. Why? Because everybody keeps telling LeBron: Giannis is the next you. Did notice how good LeBron and the Cavs were against the Celtics? Against the threatening Wizards? And last night, little Ben Simmons, 19- 20-year-old kid.

Did you watch LeBron last night? Did you watch that first quarter last night? LeBron had 15 points and seven rebounds in the first quarter. He woke up in Philadelphia, in that Ritz Carlton, he's like I'm-- Now, he had 22 in the first half but LeBron was making a statement. And the statement was: Ben Simmons is for real. This kid has a chance to be unbelievably special. And before I leave this league, I'm going to go into his house, I'm going to work my butt off, and I'm going to seize control of this game 30 seconds in.

He scored, I think, the first 9 points for the Cavs. He wouldn't let anybody else shoot. LeBron doesn't do that, LeBron's a passer. Fluid. Let the git. Last night Lebron's like, gimme the ball. First 9, mine. 15 first quarter. 22 first half. But it wasn't about LeBron. And LeBron knows talent. It tells you LeBron tip of the cap to Ben Simmons. This kid is great.

That's what that game about. That was the Peyton Manning paying respect. That was, I'm not leaving the office this week. That was LeBron saying: I'm going to get to the arena an hour and a half early and shoot, and I'm going to watch extra tape, and I'm going to take every shot out of the gate and make a statement. If you're a Philadelphia Sixers fan, you may have lost. Your guy didn't play as well as LeBron, but ultimate respect. That tells you what LeBron thinks of Ben Simmons.