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Great basketball quotes made by the Basketball God's - Part 1

Great basketball quotes are a thing that can guide each and every basketball person on his journey to greatness. And this is not just for basketball, but life. Those people are successful and they are kind to tell us how they did it, what was their thinking on their climb and how they maintained the quality and quantity needed to stay on top.

The goal of the quotes that we are going to write here is to inspire us to work hard on our goals.

Every time I seek for an advice, or I have a dilemma about my team or a player, I go through these quotes and every time I get an answer.



Bill Russell

Bill Russell

1. “Create unselfishness as the most important team attribute”
We all know sharing is caring. We all want our team to take the best possible shot. But sometimes, there will be players who didn't shoot much and sometimes we want to pass the ball to them even if it is not the best possible option. We must reward the hustlers, bigs who screen and box out all the time. We want to keep everybody involved.

2. “Concentration and mental toughness are the margins of victory” Focus on the art and not on the goal. There will be times when you are going to think that you are shooting in the ocean from the boat, and we all know times when we are going to miss it from the deck. Focus on the swing, do the small things right.

3. “The most important thing to me is the friends that I’ve made” Basketball is a game. Play. Play. Play.

4. “The most important measure of how good a game I played was how much better I’d made my teammates play”
We all know that Bill is probably the biggest winner in the history of the game and the statistically the worst player of all the other stars. Bill dominated the game by covering his teammates and playing good defense while on the offensive end he was picking up rebounds, making good screens and opening passing lanes for others.

5. “Remember that basketball is a game of habits. If you make the other guy deviate from his habits, you’ve got him”
This means that you need to know your opponent first to take him out of the game. If we have a good shooter, we are going to play close defense on him and we are going to make him drive and pass.
6. “Commitment separates those who live their dreams from those who live their lives regretting the opportunities they have squandered”
Every day work on your craft and every day try to add something to a skill set. The moment you think that you know something is the start of your downfall.

7. “What distinguishes a great player is his presence. When he goes on to the court, his presence dominates the atmosphere”
Last season in the NBA we could hear that the LeBron James is not playing defense, but, the second spectrum stats told a different story. The thing is that players were afraid to directly attack LeBron just because he is "The King." Otherwise, he was really bad on the defensive end and he lacked energy and focus like we were used to.

8. “The only important statistic is the final score”
Do what ever is needed to win. This quote best described how Rasell used to play. Much like Nikola Jokic these days. One game he is going to have 25 5 5 and the next game he is going to have 4 14 12. Its all about winning and what team needs at the moment in order to win.

9. “The idea is not to block every shot. The idea is to make your opponent believe that you might block every shot” Commitment to a craft and a will to do everything the right way. Defense is all about what you want to do and what are you willing to sacrifice.



Bob Knight

Bob Knight

1. “The single most important aspect of coaching is running effective practices” How you practice is how you play. Building good habits and practicing the stuff that you are going to use in games is the recipe for success.

2. “The key is not the ‘will to win’… everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important”Again, it is all about practice. Practice hard to play easy. There is no other way.

3. “You don’t play against opponents; you play against the game of basketball” We have to respect the postulates of the game. We all know what is the right way to set a screen. Do not set it the right way, your position to be effective is not going to be good. It is not opponents fault that you've set a bad screen...that was all on you. Ask your player if he knows what is the right way to set a screen! If he does not know than it is the coach's fault. If a coach does not know that he needs to learn. Easy as that.

4. “The goal is to make practice more difficult, physically/mentally, than anything your players will face during a game” Nothing to add. Practice hard to play easy. When they asked Jokic what was the hardest thing for him to do during his pre-NBA year when he was the MVP of ABA league, he told the journalist that the hardest thing for him was the practice where his coach ran a one and a half hour scrimmage with the full court man to man press defenses on both sides.

5. “Basketball is a full-court game, so every drill must be done full court” Practice what you play and make some good habits.

6. “I always designed my practice plans the night before and then made tweaks a few hours before practice began” The practice plan is the most important plan for every player development program. If a coach is doing a good preparation before the practice, that that team and his players are going to get better.

7. “I hate casual shooting. Every shot is preceded by working to get open and catch and shoot under game-like conditions” Show me one game on any level of basketball where a player is jogging slowly toward a spot, receiving a weak pass and shooting the ball like he doesn't care. None.

8. “What is the best thing you can do in a close game? Drive to the basket and put pressure on the defense! Not jack up jump shots”

The most efficient shots in the game of basketball are layups and free throw shots. Driving toward the basket is the thing that a player needs to do to be close enough to make a layup or a defense is going to foul him while trying to make a layup.

9. “Passing is your best weapon against man to man. Dribble penetration is your best weapon against zone” Every zone has the gray are where two players are not certain who is responsible for defending it. By dribbling the ball into that space, on many occasions, you are going to make both of those players react. Passing the ball against the man to man defense is going to get a defense on the move. If the pass is fast and accurate, after a few of the space is going to open for somebody to make a move that is going to put him in a position to make some kind of the advantage.

10. “Players must be able to carry out simple instructions from the bench to the court. If they can’t, then they can’t play” Coach is looking at the game with "different" eyes. Players have to trust the coach when the instructions are given because if one player misses a point the whole plan is going to collapse.

11. “Discipline is doing what has to be done, when it has to be done, as well as it can be done, and doing it that way all the time” Every time you need to put a hand in the face of the shooter, every time box out your man. That is the discipline that Bob wants on his team. No excuses.

12. “I just love the game of basketball so much. The game! I don’t need the 18,000 people screaming and all the peripheral things. To me, the most enjoyable part is the practice and preparation” This is where the magic is created. Practice, players getting better, working on the detail.

13. “Mental is to the physical as four is to one” Players have to be both mentally and physically tough to maximize the basketball knowledge that they possess.

14. “Offense is not equal opportunity” We want the majority of the shots to be taken by our best players. To be effective, we must put them into their sweet spots.

15. “Perform drills that force your players to think”Basketball is the game played by smart people. But, it is not enough just to be smart, we must practice our player to think fast.

16. “I sit and wonder why no one uses the shot fake. The shot fake, when used correctly, can eliminate a defender” Game of basketball is the game of deception. What we do is we fake our players that we are going to go left in times we really want to go right.

17. “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” Me, myself and I. Nobody else is responsible for your actions.

18. “A quick way for any player to make himself better is to think about what he doesn’t like to play against” Every player has the things that he really likes, and the things that he hates, and often those things that we do not like are outside of our comfort zone. So, the zone should expand, right?

19. “Good basketball always starts with good defense!” Old school basketball is all about the defense. I mean, if we know that we can make some stops, we are going to get more comfortable on offense.

20. “My practices were not set up to be easy or enjoyed” Practicing hard day in and day out is not easy and it's not for everybody. A good coach is going to push a player to his limits because that is the only way the player is going to reach his maximum.

21. “To achieve to achieve positive results, one must work for them, not hope for them” Work Work Work. Be a better player today then you were yesterday, and be the worst player then tomorrow.

22. “Defense is all about helping. No one can guard a good dribbler, You have to walk kids through how to help and then how to help the helper” Basketball is the game where the offense has the advantage, but the defenses are a path to victory. Knowing how to help is knowing how to win.

Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens

1. “The key is to maintain evenness. Try to play one possession at a time, regardless of what happened on the last possession” LeBron James was much criticized for passing the ball on some of the last posetions instead of taking a shot. Every time the play was good in terms of that the player that targeted by the pass had a better shot then LeBron. Make the right play every time. I like that.

2. “You have a choice to make when you’re not playing. Either you’re invested and a great teammate or your not” Negativity won do any good to anyone. Help the team in every way possible.

3. “The game honors toughness” Hustle, hustle, hustle. Every ball is yours until it's in the opponent's hands. 50/50 balls are very important, not in terms of more possessions, but in terms of the mentality.

4. “We’re building a culture of accountability, trust, and togetherness. Entitlement will not be tolerated” It's all about the team. 2 or even 3 guys can't win a game all alone. Its all about the group and love and care.

5. “The difference between a good defensive team and a bad defensive team is as little as three possessions” Every possession counts. You can play a perfect defense for 38 minutes, but if you lose control in those last 2 miutes, you are going to lose a game.

6. “You have to earn your right to win the game with effort and togetherness” We live together, we die together, we eat together, we practice together, we play together.

7. “How good can we expect to be if our best player is not our best teammate” If our best player is the best teammate and he has the power to bring everybody together and to navigate a team toward the same goal, then your job as a coach is going to get a lot easier.

8. “My goal is to win the next game one possession at a time. That’s it. I don’t have any other goals” The longest journey starts with a single step. It is all in the detail. Everything starts with the simple pass, a screen, another pass, drive, and a layup. If your team execute simple stuff the right way, they are going to achieve their goal.

Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers

1. “Sometimes you will hate me because I will tell you the truth about your game. And the truth can hurt/humble you” Building up a relationship with your players is very important and it is going to be tested in times when you have to tell the truth about the flaws of your players. If they prosper from your criticism, that means that they trust you.

2. “Encourage ‘random’ picks on the ball because they cannot be scouted” If you encourage freedom, but in the loop of respecting the ball and the team, and if players understand the concept given to them, then you have succeeded in your coaching.

3. “I’m looking for activity. I put players in and take them out based on effort and defense, not making or missing shots” Just to make it clear, if a player is missing a shot that is good in quality, than that is not a problem because you know that he knows what is a good shot and what is the bad shot. We can not allow players to take bad, highly contested shots in times when there is an open man next to them.

4. “Do you want to choose winning over standing out? It’s a choice every player on every championship team has to do” When I hear a story like this I always remember Carmelo Anthony and the story that all he cared is to get 30 points. They could win a game where he scored 22 and he would be mad, and there were games which they have lost and he got to 35 and he was happy. This is so wrong on so many levels.

5. “If you’re not talking, you’re not playing defense” Information is crucial when playing defense. It makes everything be easier when protecting the basket.

6. “Good players want to be coached… Great players want to be told the truth” The best quality every man (not just player) needs to possess. This is the path to greatness.

7. “How competitive can you be without losing your discipline?” Discipline is all that team needs because it ensures the right play is going to be executed both on offense and defense. We want to pass when it is time to pass, we want to take an open shot. We want to box out and we want to put a hand in a face every time the shot is taken.

Dean Smith

Dean Smith

1. “You should always sub a player out when you see them not going full speed or they’re playing selfish basketball” There are no shortcuts toward the greatness, there are no gears. It's 100% all the time. The time can be a second, a minute, a shot or a full game. But it needs to be 100% because when you lose you have no regrets.

2. “What do you do with a mistake: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it” Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. That is basketball, that is life.

3. “I always mean what I say, but I don’t always say what I’m thinking” A coach has to pick his words wisely, we are not building the same way and everybody has a week spot that is going to motivate him.

4. “I would never recruit a player who yells at his teammates, disrespected his high school coach, or scores 33 points a game and his team goes 10-10” Nobody wants cancer in his locker room. They are the cause of instability and bad energy in your team.

5. “One player’s selfish attitude can poison a locker room and make it hard, if not impossible, to establish teamwork” Players always know if a teammate is a We guy or Me guy. It is hard to work with Me players. Keep away from them.

6. “There is a lot of basketball beyond our control, but a player should never let anyone try harder than he does” Its all in the effort cos if we know we gave it all, we will be able to look each other in the eyes and continue the fight.

7. “Basketball is a beautiful game when the five players on the court play with one heartbeat” No matter how good your team is, it is basketball heaven if they play together.

8. “If you make every game a life and death proposition, you’re going to have problems. For one thing, you’ll be dead a lot” Basketball is just a game. Just a game.

9. “Basketball is a team game. But that doesn’t mean all five players should take the same amount of shots” The goal is that the team knows who the best players are and that who should take the shots. If a team is willingly putting its best players in a position to have good looks, 90% of your job is done.

10. “One player’s selfish attitude can poison the locker room and make it hard, if not impossible, to establish teamwork” We want good people in our teams. Nobody wants to deal with ego maniacs.

11. “Over coaching is the worst thing you can do to a player” We must work on our player's skill sets but then we must let them make errors. They must feel what they have learned and they must get used to using that knowledge.

12. “Only praise behavior that you want to be repeated. Never use false praise” Praise the good and identify the bad. We want both to be equal in our teachings.

13. “Praise behavior that you want to be repeated” If you are telling players that what are the good things that they have done, it is going to become a habit for them. Good habits are the definition of basketball.



Gregg Popovich

Gregg Popovich

1. “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” Togetherness is the word. Remember the first game of 2016 NBA finals between Cavs and GSW. The performance that LeBron had is one of the best individual games played in the history of the basketball, and the Cavs lost. One player is not enough.

2. “‘Play the right way’ means play unselfishly, respect each other’s achievements, play hard, fulfill your role” Role is something that many players are not aware of. We coaches have to explain to them what it means to have a role and why specific players have their roles.

3. “I can’t make every decision for you. I don’t have 14 timeouts. You guys got to get together and talk” This is what it means to lose the chains and to let your players play. They have to take faith in their own hands, and they need to blend as a group and play the game the right way.

4. “Stop by stop by stop. Play aggressively. Sprint back on ‘D’ and pay attention to how we’re supposed to guard as a team” Defensive responsibilities are the foundation of every basketball team. You can be more or less talented for the offense, but everybody can and must play defense.

5. “We believe in people executing their role and caring about the team more than anything individually” Every player must become We guy in order for a team to be successful.

6. “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” Building a team culture is very important because when a certain player is expected to join the team, he already will know what is going to be expected out of him.

Every one of those great basketball quotes is the experience of those grate basketball personas, their legacy, something that the basketball have gave to them and now they are kind to share the knowledge with the rest of us. We are obligated to give all we got, to learn, because our players deserve a 100% of us.

Nov 11, 2019 Viktor Sadikovic

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