The 50 Best Basketball Quotes

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Basketball has a history of great personalities.  Whether they are universally beloved (Michael Jordan) or controversial (Bobby Knight), great basketball minds have a way of putting the game of basketball in simple terms that we all can understand and relate to.  By reading these basketball quotes you can gain perspective and even learn how to look at basketball, and even life, in a new way.  We have compiled fifty basketball quotes that we feel are some of the best we’ve heard.

The 50 Best Basketball Quotes (In no particular order)

“Remember that basketball is a game of habits. If you make the other guy deviate Slide7from his habits, you’ve got him” – Bill Russell

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

“Shooting percentage is just as much about decision making as it is about technique”– Jeff Van Gundy

“Young men need more models, not critics”– John Wooden

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

“I don’t know if I practiced more than anybody, but I sure practiced enough. I still Slide6wonder if somebody – somewhere – was practicing more than me” – Larry Bird

Winners are not people who do not fail, but people who never quit“-Anonymous

If all I’m remembered for is being a good basketball player, then I’ve done a bad job with the rest of my life.” –Isiah Thomas

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

“Teamwork is the beauty of our sport, where you have five acting as one” – Mike Slide8Krzyzewski

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

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

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

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

Winning teams at the NBA level, the college level, and the high school level all play Slide2team basketball. Championship teams have five players on the same page at all times.“-Hubie Brown

Ask not what your teammates can do for you. Ask what you can do for your teammates.“-Magic Johnson

Everything negative — pressure, challenges — are all an opportunity for me to rise.“-Kobe Bryant

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

I’ve got a theory that if you give 100 percent all of the time, somehow things will work out in the end.“-Larry Bird

“We believe in people executing their role and caring about the team more than anything individually” – Gregg Popovich

“A key basketball skill is imagery. The best players “see” situations before they happen so they can be prepared” – Dr. Jack Ramsay

The one thing I learned about myself going back and watching tapes of all the losses that we’ve had is that I’m physically capable of doing this and dominating the game, but the mental part was not there. I don’t know if it comes with age, but I had to learn to be mentally tough.” – Lisa Leslie

Be led by your dreams not by your problems.” – Roy Williams

You don’t play against opponents, you play against the game of basketball.”—Bobby Knight

Sometimes a player’s greatest challenge is coming to grips with his role on the Slide1team.” ― Scottie Pippen

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

The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.” –Ann Landers

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

“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

“I have a plan of action, but the game is a game of adjustments” – Mike KrzyzewskiSlide4

“There is a direct correlation between the number of ball reversals and defensive breakdowns” – Kevin Eastman

“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

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

Bottom line, you’re either a risk taker, or your not, and if you don’t take risks, you’ll never win big.”-Geno Auriemma

If you’re going to have to beg them to play, it’s not going to work.”-Chuck Daly

I think, team first. It allows me to succeed, it allows my team to succeed.“-Lebron James

“Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise” – Michael Jordan

When I walked into the gym, I fell in love with the game. I didn’t fall in love with it just because it was me playing. I fell in love with it because I’ve got guys like this – like these guys every single day that push me to be the best that I can be.”-Kevin Durant

I can’t relate to lazy people. We don’t speak the same language. I don’t understand Slide5you. I don’t want to understand you.”-Kobe Bryant

“There is a lot of pressure put on me, but I don’t put a lot of pressure on myself. I feel if I play my game, it will take care of itself.”-Lebron James

“In developing teams, I don’t believe in rules. I believe in standards. Rules don’t promote teamwork, standards do” – Mike Krzyzewski

“Admit to and make yourself accountable for mistakes. How can you improve if you’re never wrong?” – Pat Summitt

“Bad shooters are always open” – Pete Carril

“Not only is there more to life than basketball, there’s a lot more to basketball than basketball” – Phil Jackson

You can’t always be the most talented or gifted person in the room, but you can be the most competitive.“-Pat Summit

“The greatness of Michael Jordan is his competitive drive. The weakness of Michael Jordan is his competitive drive” – Phil Jackson

“I can’t stand a ballplayer who plays in fear. Any fellow who has a good shot has got to take it and keep taking it. So he misses – so what?” – Red Auerbach

“Those to whom defense is not important will have the best seat in the game” – RickSlide9 Majerus

“I’m still waiting for perfection. In the meantime, I’ll settle for persistence” – Bo Ryan

“I know that I’m never as good or bad as any single performance. I’ve never believed my critics or my worshippers, and I’ve always been able to leave the game at the arena” – Charles Barkley

There you have it, our choices for the 50 best basketball quotes.  If you have some great basketball quotes that you would like for us to add to this list please use our contact form.

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Nick Daniels is the founder of As a longtime lover of basketball and a practicing school psychologist, Nick is able to offer unique insights about the game in regard to tips, guides, and the psychology of the game.