Inspirational & Motivational Basketball Quotes

Looking for inspirational or motivational basketball quotes for your team? You've come to the right place. I'm Coach Chris and I love basketball quotes to help teach and inspire my players. So many great coaches have great quotes that can help you in just a few words sum up what you may be trying to teach your players.

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Basketball Quotes Table of Contents

 

All-Purpose Advice Basketball Quotes

Use these all-purpose advice quotes to teach your players about the game of basketball and the game of life.

“Make each day your masterpiece.” – John Wooden

“My father taught me this: Do the right thing, never forget your roots, and always count your blessings.” – Shaquille O'Neal

“Talent is God-given, be humble. Fame is man-given, be thankful. Conceit is self-given, be careful” – John Wooden

“Stay hungry, stay humble.” – Hakeem Olajuwon

“Act quickly, but don't hurry.” –John Wooden

“Think and then act. Never act and then alibi.” – Hank Iba

“Keep it simple. when you get too complicated you forget the obvious.” – Al McGuire

“Since there are no secrets, keep it simple.” – Bob Knight

“Show me a guy who can't say no and I'll show you a guy with lots of problems.” – Red Auerbach

“Never worry about criticism from the misinformed.” – Adolph Rupp

“If you isolate your problem from others, your chances of solving it are thin. Problems require wisdom, and wisdom requires perspective. Other people provide that perspective.” – Bill Russell

“Destruction isn't necessarily a bad thing; it can be good if what you're destroying is immaturity, the fear of failure, jealousy, or lack of commitment.” – Mike Krzyewski

“The player or coach with superior talent should be willing to take some risks.” – Bob Cousy

“The best thing you can do is be your own person.” – Larry Bird

“Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” – John Wooden

“My advice to kids? Don't be like me - be better than me.” – Shaquille O'Neal

 

Attitude Basketball Quotes

Attitude is such a key to success. Attitude can vary from player to player and team to team. Use these attitude quotes to get players to think about where their attitude is and then work to always having a positive attitude towards themselves and their teammates.

“Always keep an open mind and a compassionate heart.” – Phil Jackson

“Winning is an attitude.” – John Chaney

“Conceive the inconceivable - then accomplish it.” – Jim Valvano

“Refuse to lose.” – John Calipari

“Spirit is contagious.” –Adolph Rupp

“To me it's a serious game. Don't expect me to be having all kinds of fun when the score's tied, two seconds left, and the other guys have the ball.” – Larry Bird

“Any game we're down even 10 points going into the fourth quarter we can still win.” – Willis Reed

“There's no one else in the world I want to have the ball for the last shot but me.” – Larry Bird

“Never fear, E.J. is here.” – Magic Johnson

“We're not out to physically harm them, but I wouldn't mind hurting their feelings.” – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

“Obviously there have been times when I've failed. But there have never been times when I thought I would fail.” – Michael Jordan

“Shooting is nothing. Anybody can shoot. The big thrill is putting on a show for the crowd.” – Pete Maravich

“To be an innovator, you can't be worried about making mistakes.” – Julius Erving

“I can't stand a ballplayer who plays in fear.” – Red Auerbach

“Confidence means being able to laugh at yourself.” – Bill Russell

“Play the game with a smile.” – Earl "the Pearl" Monroe

“Ambition is okay as long as you can control it. When it starts controlling you, you've got problems.” – Red Auerbach

“Great effort springs naturally from a great attitude.” – Pat Riley

“I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win.” – Michael Jordan

“Believe in yourself, your players, and your system of play.” – Jerry Tarkanian

“You can't afford negative thinking, so you always believe you will win. You build an image of yourself that has nothing to do with ego, but is has to be satisfied.” –Adolph Rupp

“Believe in yourself. If you believe you can do something, don't let anybody in the whole world tell you can't.” – Slick Watts

“I felt there was no one in the league who could stop me if I was playing hard.” – Larry Bird

“When I'm on my game, I don't think there's anybody who can stop me.” – Michael Jordan

“One thing I don't believe in: excuses.” –Karl Malone

“I don't look for excuses when we lose, and I don't buy excuses when we win.” – Dave Cowens

“The most important quality I look for in a player is accountability. You've got to be accountable for who you are. It's too easy to blame things on someone else.” – Lenny Wilkens

“A man may make mistakes, but he isn't a failure until he starts blaming someone else.” – John Wooden

“Blame is the coward's way out.” – Elvin Hayes

“You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.” – Michael Jordan

“Complacency is an ugly monster that sneaks up behinds us, trips us, and makes us fall short of our goals.” – Dale Brown

“For every peak, there's a valley, so don't get too high.” – John Wooden

“The difference between a winner and a loser is a matter of inches - and a matter of attitude.” – Nancy Lieberman

“The mental approach to things is what separates players at every level.” – Lisa Leslie

“We are not going to play them; they are going to play us.” – Hank Iba

“I don't think you can teach desire. I think it's a gift.” – Larry Bird

“Where do you find motivation? You find it within yourself.” – Michael Jordan

“Be a dreamer. If you don't know how to dream, you're dead.” – Dale Brown

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Life Basketball Quotes

Sports can teach us a lot about ourselves and life. Usually nothing that happens in sports is as bad as some of the things we will face in life. Missing shots, having a bad game are all things to move on from and learn to deal with those disappointments.

“I learned early that if I wanted to achieve anything in life, I'd have to do it myself. I learned that I had to be accountable.” – Lenny Wilkens

“Whatever formula you apply to your life should be the one that enables you to maintain consistency.” – Julius Erving

“Everyone should want to excel in life. You should never take the desire to excel away from the human race.” – Hank Iba

“Always focus on what you ant to achieve.” – Michael Jordan

“My message is simple: Take control of your life.” –Charles Barkley

“It doesn't make sense to be nervous playing basketball. There are too many other things to be nervous about.” – Jalen Rose

“The most important thing in a person's life is his faith and how he translates his faith into practical deeds.” – Hakeem Olajuwon

“When you remember God, God remembers you.” – Hakeem Olajuwon

“Live in the precious present.” – Rick Pitino

“Everybody who tries to accomplish something big takes the chance of a big disappointment.” – John Thompson

“Everyone is born with a certain potential. You may never achieve your full potential, but how close you come depends on how much you want to pay the price.” – Red Auerbach

“Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.” – John Wooden

“The dream comes true when you reach your potential.” – John Calipari

“Be the dream.” – John Chaney

“It takes education to be successful in the game of life.” – Bob Lanier

“The bottom line - no matter where you come from or your economic background - is to associate yourself with people interested in making your life better.” – Grant Hill

“Once you get a taste of where you want to go, motivation takes care of itself.” – Chuck Daly

“Be strong in body, clean in mind, lofty in ideals.” – James Naismith

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Quotes for Basketball Practice

Any of the quotes on this page are good to start a practice with. Have a quote that will get your players thinking about what you are trying to accomplish as a team. Build strong values in your players that will make them better people and players.

“Many, many times, the kids with less talent become the better athletes because they're more dedicated to achieving their full potential.” – Red Auerbach

“If you want a view from the top, practice, not parties, will take you where you want to go.” – Kevin Johnson

“More depth, more options, great competition in practice - these things make you a better team.” – Mike Krzyzewski

“I am not a strategic coach; I am a practice coach.” – John Wooden

“Any team can be a miracle team, but you have to go out and work for your miracles.” –Charles Barkley

“First, master the fundamentals.” – Larry Bird

“Opponents will always find your weaknesses and it doesn't take long. Weaknesses stand out like a neon sign. So don't just practice your strengths. Practice your weaknesses.” – Magic Johnson

“Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.” – John Wooden

“The number one thing is desire, the ability to do the things you have to do to become a basketball player.” – Larry Bird

“The only way to find your rhythm is by repetition. Do a thin a thousand times and pretty soon you do it easily and gracefully.” – Adolph Rupp

“I want my players to save their energy for the game.” – John Wooden

“One day of practice is like one day of clean living. It doesn't do you any good.” – John Wooden

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Court Smarts Quotes

Use these court smarts quotes to make your players think about the game and what it takes to be successful on the court. Select quotes that will help your players buy in to what you are trying to do as a coach.

“Look at the teams that had the great years. It's the ones that had the guards who could penetrate, break down the defense, and then move the ball to the right people.” – Kevin McHale

“Play to win. You can't play tentatively; you can't play scared.” – Rollie Massimino

“Great teams develop total communication on the floor. Basketball intellects mesh perfectly. They never have to call a play.” – John Havlicek

“The best way to get your players to do what you want is to make them coaches on the court.” – Don Meyer

“You can't teach court savvy.” –Dean Smith

“It don't matter who scores the points. It's who gets the ball to the scorer.” – Larry Bird

“This may sound funny, but shooting isn't my game. Passing is.” – Pete Maravich

“Anticipation is the name of the game for a little backcourt man.” – Slick Watts

“When you move without the ball, good things happen.” – Bill Walton

“You got to get the ball before you can shoot it.” – Moses Malone

“I couldn't run, and I couldn't jump so I tried to become a great shooter and passer.” – Larry Bird

“I'm not against taking shots, but I am against taking bad shots.” – Hank Iba

“Basketball is like a really fast-paced game of chess, where every move has its benefits and repercussions.” –Bill Walton

“Basketball is like a game of chess. But until you win the championship, it's not checkmate.” – Isiah Thomas

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Teamwork Quotes

Use these teamwork quotes to get players thinking about the importance of playing together and for one another. All five players working together on the court are much stronger than any individual.

“Generally speaking, individua performances don't win basketball games.” – John Wooden

“The greatest players fit with the team. They play within the team's style, rather than asking the team to change its style.” – Patrick Ewing

“Once a player becomes bigger than the team, you no longer have a team.” – Red Auerbach

“We play as a team. One-man teams are losing teams.” – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

“Winning is about having the whole team on the same page.” –Bill Walton

“The nicest thing people ever said to me as a basketball player was that I made the players around me better. To me, there's no higher compliment.” – Bill Walton

“To me, a great player is someone who gives it all he's got and makes the players around him better.” – Karl Malone

“It's not my job to look good. It's my job to make other people look good.” – Wes Unseld

“The MVP depends on what you do for your team, what you do to make everybody else play better, and above all, whether or not you win.” – Isiah Thomas

“Our goal is not to win. It's to play together and play hard. Then, winning takes care of itself.” – Mike Krzyzewski

“In basketball, personal goals have little meaning. Team goals are the only ones that really matter.” – Jack Ramsay

“Individual honors are nice, but victory belongs to the team.” – Red Auerbach

“We have a lot of leaders. They put their egos on hold.” –Jack McCloskey

“There's nothing like respect on a basketball team - toward the coach, toward one another.” – Lenny Wilkens

“I played terrible basketball in the '72 Finals. And we won. I was playing so poorly that the team overcame me. Maybe that's what being a team is all about.” – Jerry West

“The final test of a championship team is how strongly the players believe in each other.” – Chuck Daly

“The team itself must be the leader of the team.” – Phil Jackson

“Sometimes a player's greatest challenge is coming to grips with his role on the team.” – Scottie Pippen

“Molding a team begins with a clear definition of each player's role.” – Jack Ramsay

“There are people with a lot more talent than I have who have been weeded out of the league because they couldn't put their egos aside to fill a role.” – Kurt Rambis

“A great team is like a Swiss watch - a bunch of moving parts working together.” –Jo Jo White

“You are not going to win with the kids who are just All-Americans. The kids must have more than status, they must have togetherness..” – John Thompson

“It's amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.” – Chuck Daly

“Eliminate team jealousy.” – Phil Jackson

“People think teamwork is some mysterious force. It can really be manufactured by serving each player's needs.” – Bill Russell

“The best teams have chemistry. They communicate with each other and they sacrifice personal glory for a common goal.” – Dave DeBusschere

“I still say the most important thing in winning basketball games is chemistry.” – Shawn Kemp

“Victory never belongs to the individual. Victory belongs to the team.” –Red Auerbach

“Great teamwork is the only way we create the breakthroughs that define our careers.” – Pat Riley

“If you go out with one focus in mind, to contribute to the team's success, individual accolades will take care of themselves.” – Michael Jordan

“Play as a team and eliminate all thoughts of personal glory..” – Claire Bee

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Hard Work Quotes

Get your players to self-motivate and develop strong work ethics by using these quotes and sparking discussion about what is hard work.

"Hard work is fun." - Jason Otter

“Winners aren't built overnight.” – Bill Fitch

“I don't care whether we win or lose, just as long as we work hard.” – Charles Barkley

“Win, lose, or draw, the work itself is what really counts.” – Julius Erving

“It I work hard enough, we win.” – Isiah Thomas

“When the stars work hard, you've got it made because the other players feel foolish if they're not working.” –John Wooden

“Nothing will work unless you do.” – John Wooden

“Nothing is work unless you'd rather be doing something else.” – Dick Motta

“My vision, my court awareness and my height are God-given. Everything else I worked my butt off for.” – Larry Bird

“They say good things come to those who wait. I believe good things come to those who work hard.” – Wilt Chamberlain

“It's not how good you are. It's how good you can be.” – Kevin McHale

“Work is a good word. When we work hard at something we enjoy and feel good about, we feel good about ourselves again and again and again.” – Mike Krzyzewski

“The best players, when they detect a weakness in their game, go out and work on it until the weakness becomes a strength.” – Bill Walton

“If you play hard every night, the fans will be in your corner. That's what we're all working toward.” –Pat Riley

“There are times when you struggle. But the important thing is this: Keep your effort constant.” – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

“Idleness breeds mischief.” – James Naismith

“You can't get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good.” – Jerry West

“The problem with doing nothing is that you never know when you're through.” – Wilt Chamberlain

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Success Quotes

Success doesn't happen overnight so helping your players understand what success means and the process to get there is essential.

“You have to have the ability, but ability alone is not enough.” – John Thompson

“Trying to get by on talent is a fatal mistake.” – Pete Maravich

“You can win and still not succeed, still not achieve what you should. And you can lose without really failing at all.” – Bobby Knight

“Doing the best you are capable of doing is victory itself, and less than that is defeat.” – John Wooden

“You're not always going to be successful, but if you're afraid to fail, you don't deserve to be successful.” –Charles Barkley

“Championship rings, I live for them.” – Larry Bird

“I don't think I'm a better coach now that we've won the national championship.” – Dean Smith

“I only know how to play two ways. That's reckless and abandon.” – Magic Johnson

“Money is only part of the dream. The dream is to be whatever you set out to be - to fulfill your potential.” – Red Auerbach

“Don't let other people tell you what you want out of life.” – Pat Riley

“The great teams learn how to win night after night, week after week, season after season, with no letup.” – Don Nelson

“Coaches don't win championships. Administrations in championships.” – John Calipari

“I was nervous all the time. That's where I got my energy.” –Jerry West

“Sometimes, adrenaline flows into momentum.” – Dennis Johnson

“A lot of days you just want to give up, but the hard work and the pressure make a better man out of you. It prepares you for life. ” – Jack Givens

“To be successful, you have to like to lose a little less than everybody else.” – Phil Jackson

“Success is the best character builder.” – Adolph Rupp

“Success comes from talent, hard work and luck.” – Kareem Abdul Jabbar

“I was nervous all the time. That's were I got my energy.” –Jerry West

“Sometimes, adrenaline flows into momentum.” – Dennis Johnson

“A lot of days you just want to give up, but the hard work and the pressure make a better man out of you. It prepares you for life.” – Jack Givens

“To be successful, you have to like to lose a little less than everybody else.” – Phil Jackson

“Success is the best character builder.” – Adolph Rupp

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Defense & Rebounding Quotes

 

“A team's defense is the foremost part of its overall game plan. Defense, in a word, is dominant.” – Jack Ramsay

“Defense is the foundation and heart of the game of basketball.” – Jerry Tarkanian

“Defense is just hard work. There will be nights when your shots won't fall, but you can play good defense every night." – Red Auerbach

“You don't have to be "on" to play defense. We hang our hat on defense.” – Chuck Daly

“Defense will save you on the nights when your offense isn't working.” –Adolph Rupp

“Russel's first law: You must make the other player do what you want him to do.” – Bill Russell

“I want us to play mother-in-law defense: constant nagging and harassment.” – Rick Pitino

“I really believe defense is an art.” – Dennis Johnson

“I'd rather block a shot than 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've got to hate being embarrassed on defense.” – Isiah Thomas

“One way to regain your rhythm on offense is to make some big plays on defense.” – Bill Walton

“The team with a great defense coupled with a good offense will almost always defeat the team with a good defense and a great offense.” –Phog Allen

“I stress offense without the ball and defense before the other player gets the ball.” – John Wooden

“Wooden's Bruins stripped and dismantled taller opponents like a band of LA car thieves working over a parked car.” – Billy Packer

“All great teams have two things in common: defense & rebounding.” – Larry Brown

“Rebounding is not about how tall you are or how high you jump, it's about positioning and quickness.” – Bill Walton

“There is no glory in rebounding - just victory.” – George Raveling

“If you can rebound, you can win.” –Jerry West

“I played against a lot of guys who could jump. But they all came down." – Bob Hansen

“I've scored 20,000 points, but the thing I'm most proud of in my career is my rebounding.” – Charles Barkley

“Offense sells tickets. Defense wins games. Rebounds win championships.” – Pat Head Summitt

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Basketball Coaching Quotes

Use these basketball coaching quotes to reflect upon your philosophies about coaching. These quotes are great for self-reflection and thinking about how you do things as a coach.

“Develop your coaching philosophy to complement your own personality.” – Jerry Tarkanian

“Determining his philosophy is a coach's primary task. He must decide, before anything else, what he wants to say of himself through his game.” – Jack Ramsay

“Coaches must change, but the underlying philosophy of the coach must remain the same." – John Wooden

“I am the leader of my team. I know how to win. The players will do it my way, or they won't do it for me.” – Adolph Rupp

“Be yourself and don't imitate anyone regardless of his success. The two most successful coaches in the history of college basketball, John Wooden and Adolph Rupp, had completely opposite personalities. So coach within your own makeup and be yourself.” –Dale Brown

“A coach, to do his best job, must be himself.” – John Bunn

“Awareness of one's personal philosophy brings order and understanding to the coaching process.” – Jerry Tarkanian

“A coach must be sold on himself.” – Tex Winter

“Good coaching may be defined as the development of character, personality and habits of players, plus the teaching of fundamentals and team play.” – Claire Bee

“Find players you can teach and patterns they can run.” – Jerry Tarkanian

“The coach is first of all a teacher.” – John Wooden

“I've had 16 coaches in my life, and each one of them taught me different lessons about life.” – Pat Riley

“It's not what you tell them - it's what they hear.” –Red Auerbach

“Good coaching begins with self-security.” – Jack Ramsay

“Coaching is classically a personality transference to a ballclub.” – Phil Jackson

“Coaching is a means of self-expression. Successful coaches, like artists, have a characteristic style.” – Jack Ramsay

“We have certain ways of behaving on this team. I'm not on their team - they're playing on mine.” – John Thompson

“You can communicate without motivating, but it is impossible to motivate without communicating.” – John Thompson

“You must have a system, a way of doing things, that you believe is sound.” –John Thompson

“The coach should be the absolute boss, but he still should maintain an open mind." – Red Auerbach

“As a coach, I may not always be liked, but respect of my players is critical.” – Don Nelson

“Nobody talks back to me.” –Adolph Rupp

“If a coach starts listening to the fans, he winds up sitting next to them." – Johnny Kerr

“In the old days, the name of the game was coaching. Today, it's recruiting." – Hank Iba

“There are four Ps of college coaching: program, philosophy, personnel, and patterns." –Jerry Tarkanian

“What I enjoy about basketball is the process, the way things come together as you build a winning program." – Willis Reed

“It's easy to find great players. What's hard is getting people to play as a team. That's the selling job." – Chuck Daly

“A coach can't afford to get too excited because his players will get excited, too. And then they won't be able to think clearly."–John McLendon, Jr.

“There's far more overcoaching than undercoaching." – John Wooden

“I never had a lot of rules, just a few important ones."– Red Auerbach

“Keep mediocre talent on a tight rein. Unleash superior talent and let it run." –Bob Cousy

“A lot of guys go through their whole coaching careers and don't win any championships, but they're great coaches." – Chuck Daly

“When a coach gets voted into the Hall of Fame, the honor really belongs to all those who played for him." – Bobby Knight

“I learned a big secret in basketball a long, long time ago. Somebody has to be in charge."–Red Auerbach

“Other people go to an office. I get to coach. I know I've been blessed."–Jim Valvano

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Basketball Character Quotes

Use these basketball character quotes to get your players to think about who they are and what they want to become. These are great for talking about life lessons and how we can improve as people.

“Every game, every night, I did the best I could.” – Julius Erving

“Basketball was never a recreation for me. It was my whole life - something I fell in love with.” – Larry Bird

“All great players are self motivated." – Kevin McHale

“The only lasting form of discipline is self-imposed discipline.” – Dale Brown

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

“To find the unlimited scope of human possibility, look within yourself.” – Jim Valvano

“You go along in life and work hard. You reach new levels of accomplishment. And with each level you reach, the deamnds upon you become greater. Your pridce increases to meet the demands. You drive yourself harder than before.” – Bob Petit

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. Your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” – John Wooden

“Character takes you just so far. Then you've got to have talent.” – Karl Malone

“Ability may get you to the to, but it takes character to keep you there.” – John Wooden

“Play to win, observe the rules, and act like a gentleman.” – Claire Bee

“Size is not themeasure of a man's worth, unless you are talking about the size of his hear." – Wilt Chamberlain

“It's a battle of wills, not a battle of skills." –Isiah Thomas

“Some crticism will be honest, some won't. Some praise you will deserve, some you won't. You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one.” – John Wooden

“What you are as a person is far more important than what you are as basketball player.” – John Wooden

“It's hard to learn when you win.” – Bill Sharman

“Accept a loss as learning experience, and never point fingers at your teammates." – Michael Jordan

“A raggedy ride is better than a smooth one.” – Nolan Richardson

“The people who barbecued me ran out of sauce.” –Nolan Richardson

“To come back from a surgery and walk properly again; to come back and get 50 points in a ball game again is something I'm awfully proud of and will never forget." – Bernard King

“Injuries are a learning experience.” – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

“When I was young, my dad whupped me into line. Thank God he did.” –Shaquille O'Neal

“As far as character-building goes, you build more character by winning than you do by losing." – Adolph Rupp

“Never underestimate the heart of a champion." – Rudy Tmjanovich

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Basketball Winning & Losing Quotes

So often we focus on winning that we lose sight of other things. Use these basketball quotes to put winning and losing in perspective for your team.

“I know I have plenty of enemies, but I'd rather be the most hated winning coach in the country than the most popular losing one.” – Adolph Rupp

“It's easy to stick together when you're winning. But the true test of a team is to stick together when you lose..” – Dale Brown

“Tough losses stay with you more than the wins." – Jerry West

The ones you can never get out of your mind are the ones you lose when you should have won.” – Bill Walton

“It's not the end of the world when you lose a game, although sometimes as coaches, we feel like it. There's more to this game of life than his game.” –Lenny Wilkens

“Winning never gets old.” – John Havlicek

“Losing is as much a part of coaching as winning.” – Ray Meyer

“You know what happiness is? In coaching, happiness is winning on the road.” – Al McGuire

“I didn't have a best move. My best move was just to win.” – Magic Johnson

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

“Winning basektball goes beyond the superstar. The secret is balance, teamwork, hustle, and defense.” – Red Auerbach

“Some people worry about statistics, but I worry about winning. Statistics are for losers." – Pete Maravich

“Winning makes everyone a star." –Lenny Wilkens

“My job is simple: Make my teammates think win, win, win.” – Penny Hardaway

“After winning the championship game, I remember a joy over the next 48 hours, a spring of joy, a feeling of great accomplishment. For 16 years I had waited for that moment.” – Elvin Hayes

“The higher you climb, themore you feel the disappointment when you don't reach the top.” – John Thompson

“Becoming number one is easier than staying number one." – Bill Bradley

“The first time you win a championship, it's a honeymoon. The second time, it's an odyssey.” – Phil Jackson

“Defeat and failure are my enemies." –Adolph Rupp

“I would not give one iota to make the trip from cradle to the grave unless I could live in a competitive world." – Adolph Rupp

“Winning a championship is never easy. And it shouldn't be.” – Phil Jackson

“Sometimes winning a basketball game is just plain luck." –Dean Smith

“I don't want undue dejection when we lose or any undue celebration when we win." – John Wooden

“The taste of defeat is a richness of experience all its own." – Bill Bradley

“Victory is fraught with as much danger as glory.” – Bill Bradley

“The only thing harder to handle than winning too much is losing too much." –John Wooden

“As you get older, you understand that winning has its place, and losing is not the end of the world." – Red Auerbach

“The awards and championships are great, but the journey is what I'll remember.” – Hakeem Olajuwon

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Basketball Observation Quotes

These are basketball quotes that didn't fit into our other categories and cover a little bit of everything.

“The game I invented in 1891 back at the Springfield, Massacusetts YMCA college has had a fine part in the development of better international understanding.” – James Naismith

“Basketball may have been invented in Massachusetts, but it was made for Indiana.” – Bob Knight

“World War II is really the thing that spread basketball around the world. The soliders played it." – Bob Kurlan

"The things that brought world competition together were jets and televsion.” – Red Auerbach

“It's a worlds game. It's not expensive to play. You can have fun playing by yourself or one-on-one with another person. Basketball is for everyone." –Red Auerbach

“The invention of basketball was not an accident. It was developed to meet a need. Those boys simply would not play drop the handkerchief.” – James Naismith

“A referee has to encourage action on the court, not cripple it with technicalities.” –Earl Strom

“If you are a referee, you have no friends.” – Charlie Eckman

“A basketball referee has one of the few jobs in life where you're in charge, but your supposed to be anonymous.” – Earl Strom

“For a basketball official, the highest accolade is silence.” – Dolly Stark

“They always take the good big guy ahead of the good little guy. That's the NBA way.” – Sean Elliott

“I don't hink you can ever have enough big people." – Jimmy Rodgers

“Quickness, not height, is probably the greatest attribute a team can have." –Jerry Tarkanian

“Height is overrated.” – Charles Barkely

“I'd rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a little talent and a lot of experience.” – John Wooden

“You don't play against opponents. You play against the game of basketball.” – Bobby Knight

“It's not so important who starts the game as who finishes it." – John Wodden

“Leadership is getting others to believe in you.” – Larry Bird

“Basketball is a game easy to play and difficult to master." –James Naismith

“It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." – John Wooden

“Ego is a paradox - it is the point from which you see, but it can' also make you blind.” – Bill Russell

“Defense can be taught. Offense is something different. Offense is something you're born with." –Red Auerbach

“It's better to say you won the championship game than you played in it." – Bobby Knight

“If you could bottle all the emotion in a basketball game, you'd have enough hate to start a war and enough joy to stop one." – Bill Russell

“A lack of success doesn't necessarily mean it's someone else's fault.” – Bill Walton

“NBA stands for No Babies Allowed." –Charles Barkley

“Whenver you lose, there's going to be criticism. That's why they invented talk radio." – Rudy Tomjanovich

“I don'think about my dunk shots. I just have to make sure I have a place to land." – Julius Erving

“Minor surgery is when they do the operation on someone else." – Bill Walton

“As a kid, I had a vivid imagination in the back yard. I was a player, coach, announcer, even timekeeper. And if I missed the last shot at the buzzer, there was always time for one more - or ten.” – Jerry West

“I wish all players had an opportunity to play in the championship fo rthe Lakers or the Celtics during my time. Then, they'd understand what basketball really is." –Magic Johnson

“Basketball is sharing." – Phil Jackson

“Basketball has been a powerful force for understanding and race relations in our society." – John McLendon

“Even when I'm old and gray, I won't be able to play it, but I'll still love the game." – Michael Jordan

“It' ain't over till the fat lady sings.” – Dick Motta's Favorite Motto

“Basketball, finally is a popular spectator's game. How many millions the world over gather to cheer their favorite teams is beyond guess." –James Naismith 1939

“People say, "Relax, the game is over. The game is over." Well, the game is never over." – Red Auerbach

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Bob Knight Basketball Quotes

Some of my favorite quotes come from Coach Bob Knight. Bob Knight was a controversial coach but he has tremendous knowledge of the game.

“The single most important aspect of coaching is running effective practices” – Bob Knight

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

“You don’t play against opponents; you play against the game of basketball” – Bob Knight

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

“Basketball is a full court game, so every drill must be done full court” – Bob Knight

“I always designed my practice plans the night before and then made tweaks a few hours before practice began” – Bob Knight

“I hate casual shooting. Every shot is preceded by working to get open and catch and shoot under game like conditions” – Bob Knight

“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” – Bob Knight

“Passing is your best weapon against man to man. Dribble penetration is your best weapon against zone” – Bob Knight

“Players must be able to carry out simple instructions from the bench to the court. If they can’t, then they can’t play” – Bob Knight

“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” – Bob Knight

“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” – Bob Knight

“Mental is to the physical as four is to one” – Bob Knight

“Offense is not equal opportunity” – Bob Knight

“Perform drills that force your players to think” – Bob Knight

“I sit and wonder why no one uses the shot fake. The shot fake, when used correctly, can eliminate a defender” – 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

“A quick way for any player to make himself better is to think about what he himself doesn’t like to play against” – Bob Knight

“Good basketball always starts with good defense!” – Bob Knight

“My practices were not set up to be easy or enjoyed” – Bob Knight

“In order to achieve to achieve positive results, one must work for them, not hope for them”– Bob Knight

“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” – Bob Knight

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NBA Player Basketball Quotes

 

Kevin Durant Basketball Quotes

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard” – Kevin Durant

“With everything I do, I just try to be myself.” Kevin Durant

“I’m just trying to grow. That’s one thing I told myself is, Don’t worry about who people say is the best player.” Kevin Durant

“I just loved being in the gym. It was tough at times. Sometimes I wanted to quit, but I’m glad I stuck with it.” Kevin Durant

“I’ve got a long way to go to being the ultimate best but I think my time is now. And I’m starting to enter my prime.” Kevin Durant

“I always want to win because I never want to sit out on the sidelines outside.” Kevin Durant

“I don’t know what I’m going to do tomorrow. I just know for sure I’m going to keep playing basketball.” Kevin Durant

“I’m a basketball player. That’s what I do and what I love but that’s just not all who I am. I’m talented in a lot of different areas.” Kevin Durant

“I’m busy working on every aspect of game – defense, shooting, rebounding – but I really want to become a better overall team player. Help my teammates become better players out on the court in order to win more ball games.” Kevin Durant

 

“When people are used to doing something, they want you to stay in that lane.” Kevin Durant

“Every memory I had growing up was involving a basketball. I didn’t go to the prom and stuff like that. It was always basketball for me.” Kevin Durant

“My mom just wants to make sure that my heart is always in whatever I do and I’m in things for the right reasons.” Kevin Durant

“I’m not a guy that’s going to brag or feel like I’m better than the group.” Kevin Durant

“Everything has been such a whirlwind ever since I stepped foot in the league and everything has been like a dream, so I’m just blessed to be in this position.” Kevin Durant

 

“I can score the basketball, but I think I can pass pretty well or I can make the correct pass. I’m not the type of guy who’s just going to throw the ball inbounds to a guy who’s wide open. I can make the right pass.” Kevin Durant

“I just want to grow spiritually with God. I’m keeping strong at it, just trying to make my walk with faith a little better.”

“The clothes are not making me, if I like it, that’s all that matters. It’s not about the clothes. It’s about how I am as a person and how confident I am.” Kevin Durant

“You know, I don’t want to stand out too much.” Kevin Durant

“My acting coach I’ve got here, Richard Lawson, he’s been doing good, just telling me to calm down sometimes and just be me.” Kevin Durant

“I learned how to pass when I was real young. That’s one thing I always knew how to do was find an open man.” Kevin Durant

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.” Kevin Durant

“So many people doubted me. They motivated me every single day to be who I am.” Kevin Durant

 

“It feels good to be a part of history.” Kevin Durant

“Basketball is a platform for me to inspire people.” Kevin Durant

“I’ve learned what it feels like to lose, believe me. But I think in the end, that is just going to make winning that much better.” Kevin Durant

“My wildest dreams are when I’m wide awake.” Kevin Durant

“In this league, experience means a lot.” Kevin Durant

“I want to show people who I really am, especially aspiring basketball players who want to be at this level. That’s what I’m about.” Kevin Durant

“Chemistry is important. If you like teammates, it’s going to be easier to play with them on the court.” Kevin Durant

 

“When you got people behind you, you can do whatever.” Kevin Durant

“Everything in my life, I had to take it. They are not going to give it to you out of sympathy. I wouldn’t want it any other way.” Kevin Durant

“My style has changed and evolved mainly because I’ve grown to have more confidence in myself.” Kevin Durant

“With a versatile player, there’s no spot on the court you can’t pass him the ball. You can do anything.” Kevin Durant

 

“It’s fun that I get to live out my dream every single day. It’s a blessing. I can’t lose sight of that and I’ve just got to keep pushing.” Kevin Durant

“Work harder than your opponent.” Kevin Durant

“I know that hard work got me here. And the day I stop working hard, this can all go away.” Kevin Durant

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The Best LeBron James Basketball Quotes

1. “I’m going to use all my tools, my God-given ability, and make the best life I can with it.” LeBron James

2. “Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.” LeBron James

3. “I think the reason why I am who I am today is because I went through those tough times when I was younger.” LeBron James

4. “I think team first. It allows me to succeed, it allows my team to succeed.” LeBron James

5. “Don’t be afraid of failure. This is the way to succeed.” LeBron James

6. “I’m a guy who believes in unfinished business.” LeBron James

7. “You have to be able to accept failure to get better.” LeBron James

8. “Ask me to steal, block out, sacrifice, lead, dominate, anything. But it’s not what you ask of me it’s what I ask of myself.” LeBron James

9. “I like criticism. It makes you strong.” LeBron James

11. “I treated it like every day was my last day with a basketball.” LeBron James

12. “People will hate you, rate you, shake you, and break you. But how strong you stand is what makes you.” LeBron James

15. “Nothing is given. Everything is earned.” LeBron James

18. “No matter how good one individual is, it takes a whole team to win a championship.” LeBron James

19. “Success isn’t owned, it’s leased. And the rent is due every day.” LeBron James

20. “Commitment is a big part of what I am and what I believe. How committed are you to winning? How committed are you to being a good friend? To being trustworthy? To being successful? How committed are you to being a good father, a good teammate, a good role model? There’s that moment every morning when you look in the mirror: Are you committed, or are you not?” LeBron James

23. “I have short goals – to get better every day, to help my teammates every day – but my only ultimate goal is to win an NBA championship. It’s all that matters. I dream about it. I dream about it all the time, how it would look, how it would feel. It would be so amazing.” LeBron James

24. “To all the positions, I just bring the determination to win.” LeBron James

25. “I hate letting my teammates down.” LeBron James

27. “If I’m not giving 100 percent, I criticize myself.” LeBron James

28. “Warren Buffet told me once and he said, ‘always follow your gut’. When you have that gut feeling, you have to go with, don’t go back on it.” LeBron James

29. “I never get too high on my stardom or what I can do.” LeBron James

32. “As a professional athlete a lot is going to be said about you – but I just try to move forward and try to achieve my goals.” LeBron James

34. “Greatness is defined by how much you want to put into what you do.” LeBron James

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