Basketball Quotations

This page of motivational and inspirational basketball quotations feature quotes specifically from those involved in the game of basketball. Some are funny, some are wise, and some are just plain crazy!

You will find motivational quotes from basketball coaches and players on the other quotation pages — and many of the quotes below are motivational — but many don’t necessarily fit into any specific category. What you’ll find here are just some great basketball quotes and quips from those in the game!

The game of basketball is a game of accepting failure; of accepting imperfection; of realizing that the perfect game has never been played, never will be played, or ever could be played.

— Tony Alfonso

It is far better to shoot an airball than to not shoot at all for fear of missing.

— Tony Alfonso

What to do with a mistake – recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.

— Dean Smith

Play the game with a smile.

— Earl “The Pearl” Monroe

I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win.

— Michael Jordan

We are not going to play them; they are going to play us.

— Hank Iba

If you practice with emotion and purpose you’ll play with passion and confidence.

When you miss a shot, never think of what you did wrong. Take the next shot thinking of what you must do right.

— Tony Alfonso

Athletes that can’t listen, can condition.

— Chuck Daly

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

Go up to the free throw line knowing your going to make it, not knowing you won’t miss.

— Hilary Ashmead

Not only is there more to life than basketball, there’s a lot more to basketball than basketball.

— Phil Jackson

Most players prepare for disaster. A good player prepares for success.

— Tony Alfonso

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 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

When a gifted team dedicates itself to unselfish trust and combines instinct with boldness and effort–it is ready to climb.

— Pat Riley

Our goal is not to win. It’s to play together and play hard. Then, winning takes care of itself.

— Mike Krzyzewski

Show respect for yourself and for your team by working hard and diligently practicing the skills that will give us a good team.

All the successful teams I’ve ever seen have three characteristics: They play unselfish, they play together, and they play hard.

— Larry Brown

Blending the talents of your team members is crucial to basketball success.

— John Kundla

When it comes to team dynamics — on a basketball court or in a corporate setting — maintaining a positive atmosphere is crucial.

— Rick Pitino, Rebound Rules: The Art of Success 2.0

Other people go to an office. I get to coach. I know I’ve been blessed.

— Jim Valvano

You must be sure that you give back something that’s beneficial to the game. Any of the teaching you do must be for the benefit of the men who play.

— Hank Iba

Think of new ways to do old things. You must protect against boredom in a practice situation.

— George Raveling

Players know how to dribble, shoot and pass. The challenge is to teach them why they should do it a certain way, and when they should do it.

— Marv Harshman

Well-coached teams are never surprised; they can adapt to anything they see.

— Jack Ramsay

There are really only two plays: Romeo and Juliet and put the darn ball in the basket.

— Abe Lemons

When you go out on the court whether it be for the championship or just a scrimmage, have confidence that your abilities and what you’ve learned in your drills are better than your opponent’s. This does not mean you should disregard your opponent. Before taking the court for any game, you should do a lot of thinking about what you have to do to beat your opponent and what he must or can do to beat you.

— Bob Pettit

For order and a society to exist – and a basketball team is a society within itself – it needs discipline.

— Joe B. Hall

A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills and uses these skills to accomplish his goals.

— Larry Bird

I’ve always considered myself a crunch-time player. I just love having the ball in my hands. Everyone in the arena knows the ball is supposed to be in your hands and you still make it. It’s the odds. I love the odds.

— Reggie Miller

You never make any of the shots you never take. 87% of the ones you do take, you’ll miss too. I make 110% of my shots.

— Larry Bird

Practice to beat the best.

— Dick Bennett

Basketball is a game that gives you every chance to be great, and puts every pressure on you to prove that you haven’t got what it takes. It never takes away the chance, and it never eases up on the pressure.

— Bob Sundvold

Champions play as they practice. Create a consistency of excellence in all your habits.

— Mike Krzyzewski

The great players show how much they want to play during the offseason — when it’s hot, when it’s tough, and when no one is watching.

Mental toughness is to physical as four is to one.

— Bob Knight

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

— Dave DeBusschere

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.

— Michael Jordan

My definition of discipline is as follows: 1) Do what has to be done, when it has to be done, as well as it can be done, and 2) Do it that way all the time.

— Bob Knight

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

Sometimes, adrenaline flows into momentum.

— Dennis Johnson

I’m not against taking shots, but I am against taking bad shots.

— Hank Iba

Some people believe you win with your five best players, but I found out that you win with the five who fit together best.

— Red Auerbach

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

Teamwork is really a form of trust. It’s what happens when you surrender the mistaken idea that you can go it alone and realize that you won’t achieve your individual goals without the support of your colleagues.

— Pat Summitt

Teams that play together beat those with superior players who play more as individuals.

— Jack Ramsay

Basketball, more than any other sport, is a team game…about the thousands of small, unselfish acts, the sacrifices on the part of the players that result in team building.

— Dean Smith

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

Winning teams at the NBA level, the college level, and the high school level all play team basketball. Championship teams have five players on the same page at all times.

— Hubie Brown

Basketball is a beautiful game when the five players on the court play with one heartbeat.

— Dean Smith

Create unselfishness as the most important team attribute.

— Bill Russell

Doing the best you are capable of doing is victory in itself, and less than that is defeat.

— John Wooden



  1. Kathryn says

    thank you for these great quotes the r amazing who ever put up this website saved my life I took a winning shot because of these quotes thank you

  2. Dylen says

    Success is not an accident, success is actually a choice- Stephen curry

    It doesn’t matter how big you are, it matters how big you play- myself

    You have one job and it’s to get better – Derek Rose

    When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe then you will be successful – I don’t know the name of this guy sorry

    Look at the number on the back of your jersey, you know you’re blessed – myself

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