In sports, teams will trump individuals nearly every time. LeBron James knows this well.
Despite James averaging 35.6 points, 9 rebounds and 10.6 assists in the NBA Finals, his Cleveland Cavaliers are in a 0-3 hole to the Golden State Warriors.
Following Wednesday's loss, in which he earned a triple-double, James compared facing the Warriors to what NFL teams go through when playing against Bill Belichick and the dynastic New England Patriots.
"The margin of error is very low. It's almost like playing the Patriots: you just can't have mistakes, they're not going to beat themselves," James said, via NBA TV.
As he continued, James' assessment could work as well to describe the Patriots as it does the Warriors:
"When you're able to force a miscue on them you have to be able to capitalize," he said. "And then you have to be so in-tuned and razor sharp and focused in every single possession. You can't have miscommunication, you can't have lulls, you can't have 'my faults' or 'my bads' and things like that because they are going to make you pay."
James, an avid football fan, hit the nail on the head.
Great teams, like the Patriots and Warriors, don't beat themselves. Even on off days, their pedigree and attention to detail will win out over the course of 60-minute or 48-minute affairs.
No team has consistently overmatched opponents mentally as the Patriots have in the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era. Sporting greatness on the field or court is one part of the equation (the Patriots have Brady and Rob Gronkowski, the Warriors Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson). Dominating preparation is another proven championship trait.
When teams have beaten the Patriots in Super Bowls, like the New York Giants or Philadelphia Eagles, it took near-perfect efforts. Knowing the Patriots' persona is why Doug Pederson knew he had to keep his foot on the gas in Super Bowl LII, which led to the memorable "Philly Special" touchdown.
Great teams don't beat themselves and they make the margin for error minuscule. Even for a player of LeBron's caliber, overcoming The Team is a daunting task.