Basketball Quotes

Basketball is a beautiful game. But for us fans, it’s hard to express how we feel and what we think about basketball. We’re basketball fanatics, but we’re not poets. So we needed help.

In order to give you a glimpse of how great this game is, we’ve looked at those who made this game great. In this piece, we want to inspire you. And there is no better way to do that than to present you what all-time greats had to say about basketball.

They are the ones whose careers inspired us, basketball fans, to fall in love with this game. And not just that, but also to understand life better. We want to share a bit of this magic with you.

So here are 101 basketball quotes that will truly inspire you, from the best players and coaches in the game.

Basketball quotes by players


“Remember that basketball is a game of habits. If you make the other guy deviate from his habits, you’ve got him” – Bill Russell

“The only important statistic is the final score”Bill Russell

“The idea is not to block every shot. The idea is to make your opponent believe that you might block every shot”Bill Russell

“You have to be able to center yourself, to let all of your emotions go. Don’t ever forget that you play with your soul as well as your body”Kareem Abdul Jabbar

“I try to do the right thing at the right time. They may just be little things, but usually they make the difference between winning and losing”Kareem Abdul Jabbar

“It’s OK to make mistakes. That’s how we learn. When we compete, we make mistakes”Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

“Practice habits were crucial to my development in basketball. I didn’t play against the toughest competition in high school, but one reason I was able to do well in college was that I mastered the fundamentals. You’ve got to have them down before you can even think about playing”Larry Bird

“Once you are labeled ‘the best’ you want to stay up there, and you can’t do it by loafing around”Larry Bird

“Don’t let winning make you soft. Don’t let losing make you quit. Don’t let your teammates down in any situation”Larry Bird

“Limits, like fears, are often just an illusion” Michael Jordan

“There have been times when I have failed. But there have never been times when I thought I would fail”Michael Jordan

“If it turns out that my best wasn’t good enough, at least I wont look back and say that I was afraid to try”Michael Jordan

“If you are afraid of failure you don’t deserve to be successful”Charles Barkley

“You’re always going to face criticism, you’re always going to face challenges, but those things are there to make you stronger and more committed” David Robinson

“It’s not up to anyone else to make me give my best” Hakeem Olajuwon

“A lot of late nights in the gym, a lot of early mornings, especially when your friends are going out, you’re going to the gym, those are the sacrifices that you have to make if you want to be an NBA basketball player”Jason Kidd

“Don’t let talent get in way of team performance. Great players do what’s outstanding for team, not what makes them stand out”Jerry West

“If you are honest with yourself and can look into a mirror and believe that you have given 100 percent, you should feel proud. If you cannot, then there is more work to be done”John Havlicek

“I think I started learning lessons about being a good person long before I ever knew what basketball was. And that starts in the home, it starts with the parental influence”Julius Erving

“It’s not about the number of hours you practice, it’s about the number of hours your mind is present during the practice” Kobe Bryant

“You always have to be on edge. You always have to take every practice, every game, like it is your last” Kobe Bryant

“Everybody on a championship team doesn’t get publicity, but everyone can say they are a champion”Magic Johnson

“When you work on getting better at something, don’t do it half speed”Ray Allen

“I don’t complain about playing time. My job is to play so well the coach can’t sit me”Shane Battier

“The day I stopped worrying about stats is the day I started winning”Shaquille O’Neal

“You should always want your coach to be critical. It gives you an opportunity to learn and to overcome adversity”Steve Nash

“If every basketball player worked as hard as I did, I’d be out of a job”Steve Nash

“The time when there is no one there to feel sorry for you or to cheer for you is when a player is made”Tim Duncan

“We are unselfish and we trust each other”Tim Duncan

The game of basketball has been everything to me. My place of refuge, place I’ve always gone where I needed comfort and peace. It’s been the site of intense pain and the most intense feelings of joy and satisfaction. It’s a relationship that has evolved over time, given me the greatest respect and love for the game.” – Michael Jordan

I don’t know how tall I am or how much I weigh. Because I don’t want anybody to know my identity. I’m like a superhero. Call me Basketball Man.” – LeBron James

“I’m just playing basketball. I just want to be a great player. That’s it. That’s all I’m thinking about. If the other stuff comes, it comes, but I’m just fortunate to play in the NBA Finals and just to play basketball, period.” – Kawhi Leonard

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

I never looked at the consequences of missing a big shot when you think about the consequences you always think of a negative result.” — Michael Jordan

“I feel like I have another level every year that I start a new season of basketball. If I continue to keep growing, and make everything consistent, I’m going to get better and better each year.” – Victor Oladipo

You can’t win unless you learn how to lose.” – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

It was a blessing just to play one NBA basketball game.” – Allen Iverson

I have certain guys who I looked up to. Jordan, Kobe, those guys. Passing that on to doing my part to kind of keep that influence of basketball where it should be is kind of why I play the game.” – Stephen Curry

It’s hard to play well, but it’s easy to work hard.” – Kevin Durant

It doesn’t matter if you win, as long as you give everything in your heart.”Michael Jordan

“Talent is never enough. With few exceptions, the best players are the hardest workers.”Magic Johnson

“Play for the name on the front, not for the name on the back.” – Unknown author

“If i’m not trying my best, I might as well retire.”Derrick Rose

I think that the good and the great are only separated by the willingness to sacrifice.” – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

If it is easy, then you are doing it wrong.” – Gabby Williams

Be the hardest working person you can be. That’s how you separate yourself from the competition.” – Stephen Curry

You got to have the killer instinct. If you do not have it, forget about basketball and go into social psychology or something. If you sometimes wonder if you’ve got it, you ain’t got it. No pussycats, please.” – Bill Russell

Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.” – Tim Duncan

“Don’t let what other people think decide who you are.”Dennis Rodman

I won at every level – all the way since I started playing the game of basketball at nine. I’ve won at every level, won championships at every level. And, you know, it won’t be fulfilled until I win at the highest level.” – LeBron James


Basketball quotes by coaches


“Defense is one man guarding the ball and four others helping him”Mike Krzyzewski

“Everyone wants to be on a team. They want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They want to be in a situation where they feel that they are doing something for the greater good”Mike Krzyzewski

“Champions play as they practice. Create a consistency of excellence in all your habits”Mike Krzyzewski

“Don’t confuse your path with your destination. Just because its stormy now doesn’t mean you aren’t headed for sunshine”Mike Krzyzewski

“The true warrior understands and seizes that moment by giving an effort so intense and so intuitive that it could only be called one from the heart” Pat Riley

“Coaches win practices, players win games”Pete Carril

“Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the Me for the We” Phil Jackson

“Some say you have to use your five best players, but I found out you win with the five that fit together best as a team”Red Auerbach

“Those to whom defense is not important will have the best seat in the game”Rick Majerus

“If you want to have a lot of success, you need to have a lot of failure”Rick Majerus

“Failure is good. It’s fertilizer. Everything I’ve learned about coaching, I’ve learned from making mistakes”Rick Pitino

“Success isn’t the same as talent. The world is full of incredibly talented people who never succeed at anything”Tim Grover

“Never let fundamentals and building skills take a backseat to game planning. Game plans win games. Fundamentals win championships”Tom Crean

“Not talking on the floor is the least recognized form of selfishness but maybe the most dangerous to your team having success”Tom Crean

“You learn from everybody. You learn from the players. You learn from great coaches. You learn from great teams”Tom Thibodeau

“The guys who take shortcuts, who aren’t ready, they fail when their opportunity comes” Tom Thibodeau

“Talent sets the floor, character sets the ceiling” Bill Belichick

“A bad day coaching basketball is better than a good day doing almost anything else”Bob Hurley

“A basketball team is like the five fingers on your hand. If you can get them all together, you have a fist. That’s how I want you to play.” – Mike Krzyzewski

“Failure does not come from losing, but from not trying” Larry Brown

“The key is not the ‘will to win’… everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important”Bob Knight

“The goal is to make practice more difficult, physically/mentally, than anything your players will face during a game”Bob Knight

“Coaches shouldn’t have to push you to work hard, you should push yourself to work hard because you want to be a great player”Bob Knight

“How good can we expect to be if our best player is not our best teammate”Brad Stevens

“My goal is to win the next game one possession at a time. That’s it. I don’t have any other goals”Brad Stevens

“What do you do with a mistake: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it”Dean Smith

“Praise behavior that you want repeated”Dean Smith

“Over coaching is the worst thing you can do to a player”Dean Smith

“Do you want to choose winning over standing out? It’s a choice every player on every championship team has to do” Doc Rivers

“If you’re not talking, you’re not playing defense”Doc Rivers

“Good players want to be coached… Great players want to be told the truth”Doc Rivers

“Practice shared suffering. If one guy messes up, everyone runs. If one guy does well, everyone benefits”Don Meyer

“Make the practices like games and the games like practices” Don Meyer

“In the end, what your own troops do is more important than who they are marching against”Don Meyer

“It is foolish to expect a young man to follow your advice and to ignore your example” Don Meyer

“Basketball, like all sports, is predicated on the execution of fundamentals. The coach is a teacher. His subject: fundamentals”Dr Jack Ramsay

“It’s not about any one person. You’ve got to get over yourself and realize that it takes a group to get this thing done”Gregg Popovich

“No one is bigger than the team. If you can’t do things our way, you’re not getting time here and we don’t care who you are”Gregg Popovich

“Winning teams at the NBA level, the college level, and the high school level all play team basketball. Championship teams have 5 players on the same page at all times”Hubie Brown

“X & O’s aren’t worth a damn without a team. If your team isn’t with you it doesn’t matter what you draw up. The team must respect what the coach is asking them to do”Hubie Brown

“Your best player has to set a tone of intolerance for anything that gets in the way of winning”Jeff Van Gundy

“A person really doesn’t become whole, until he becomes a part of something that’s bigger than himself”Jim Valvano

“To go from where you are to where you want to be: you have to have a dream, a goal, and you have to be willing to work for it”Jim Valvano

“What type of teammates do you want to play with? Be that teammate yourself”John Calipari

“My philosophy of defense is to keep the pressure on an opponent until you get to his emotions”John Wooden

“I continually stress to my players that all I expect from them at practice and in the games is their maximum effort”John Wooden

“A player who makes a team great is better than a great player”John Wooden

“Confidence comes from being prepared” John Wooden

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes” John Wooden

“Leaders are interested in finding the best way rather than having their own way”John Wooden

“All the successful teams I’ve ever seen have 3 characteristics: They play unselfish, they play together, and they play hard”Larry Brown


Basketball is the most individual of all team sports. It has a perfect combination of individual greatness and team effort. Just like life.

You have to be strong and independent as a person, but you also have lo function in a group. Listening to these people will help you to better understand basketball and life. Enjoy.