70+ Best Basketball Quotes To Inspire And Motivate You

Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Dec 12, 2023 By Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Originally Published on Jan 31, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
A goal being scored in a game of basketball

Basketball is one of the most played sports all around the world.

James Naismith, a physical educator, invented Basketball in 1891 when he was looking for a way to keep his students active on a rainy day. He used a soccer ball and a peach basket in the first game that he made his students play.

Soon after, word spread about the newly invented game and many publications contacted Naismith for copies of the rules. Ever since its inception, basketball has seen a steady but massive improvement with the rise of spectacular players like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, and Julius Erving to name a few.

It became one of the most popular sports viewed widely around the globe. Basketball focuses largely on team-work and collective efforts by all players.

Basketball players are the perfect examples of how far one can push the human body with their freak athleticism, endless stamina, and relentless commitment to the game. You can encourage a basketball player with a basketball to play with you!

For more related content take a look at [Michael Jordan quotes] and [Stephen Curry quotes].

Famous Basketball Quotes

Some of the best basketball quotes from great basketball players and coaches are right here, from basketball game to screen. Read on to find out Stephen Curry's famous quote.

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

Bill Russell.

2. “Everybody pulls for David, nobody roots for Goliath.”

― Wilt Chamberlain.

3. “I think that my God-given physical attributes, big hands, and big feet, the way that I’m built, proportion-wise, just made basketball the most inviting sport for me to play.”

― Julius Erving, interview with The Academy Of Achievement.

4. “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.

5. “I’ve never lost a game, I just ran out of time.”

― Michael Jordan, ‘For The Love Of The Game’.

6. “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.

7. “Champions never complain, they are too busy getting better.”

― John Wooden.

8. “Sometimes a player’s greatest challenge is coming to grips with his role on the team.”

― Scottie Pippen.

9. “When you’re not practicing, someone else is getting better.”

— Allen Iverson.

10. “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

― Kevin Durant.

11. “Winning is more related to good defense than good offense.”

― Dr. Jack Ramsay.

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

― Larry Brown.

13. “He who controlleth the backboard, controlleth the game.”

― Adolph Rupp.

14. “The secret is to have eight great players and four others who will cheer like crazy.”

― Jerry Tarkanian.

15. “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.

16. “Winning is about having the whole team on the same page.”

― Bill Walton.

17. “Everything negative — pressure, challenges — are all an opportunity for me to rise.”

― Kobe Bryant.

18. “I’ve never been afraid of big moments. I get butterflies… I get nervous and anxious, but I think those are all good signs that I’m ready for the moment.”

― Stephen Curry.

Motivational Basketball Quotes

Quotes that have the ability to encourage and motivate you to the core!

19. “The basketball court for me, during a game, is the most peaceful place I can imagine. On the basketball court, I worry about nothing. When I'm out there, no one can bother me.”

― Michael Jordan.

20. “Great players are willing to give up their own personal achievement for the achievement of the group. It enhances everybody.”

― Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

21. “In order to achieve positive results, one must work for them, not hope for them.”

― Bob Knight.

22. “I always laugh when people ask me about rebounding techniques. I’ve got a technique. It’s called just go get ball.”

― Charles Barkley.

23. “Once you are labeled the best you want to stay up there, and you can’t do it by loafing around. If I don’t keep changing, I’m history.”

― Larry Bird.

24. “Push yourself again and again. Don't give an inch until the final buzzer sounds.”

― Larry Bird.

25. “Me shooting 40% at the foul line is just God's way to say nobody’s perfect.”

― Shaquille O'Neal.

26. “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, interview with Donald McRae, Guardian.

27. “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.

28. “The eight laws of learning are explanation, demonstration, imitation, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition.”

― John Wooden.

29. “Every time I feel tired while I am exercising and training, I close my eyes to see that picture, to see that list with my name. This usually motivates me to work again.”

― Michael Jordan.

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

― Mike Krzyzewski.

31. “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.

32. “I really get motivated when I have doubters.”

— Shaquille O’Neal.

33. “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”

― Michael Jordan.

34. “You don’t play against opponents, you play against the game of basketball.”

― Bob Knight.

35. “Confidence is a lot of this game or any game. If you don’t think you can, you won’t.”

― Jerry West.

36. “Never give up. Failure and rejection are just the first steps to succeeding.”

Jim Valvano.

Inspirational Basketball Quotes

Here are the best inspiring basketball quotes from some famous basketball players.

37. “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

― Michael Jordan, ‘I Can’t Accept Not Trying: Michael Jordan On The Pursuit Of Excellence’.

38. “A team will always appreciate a great individual if he's willing to sacrifice for the group.”

― Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

39. “The important thing is that your teammates have to know you’re pulling for them and you really want them to be successful.”

― Kobe Bryant.

40. “Ask not what your teammates can do for you. Ask what you can do for them.”

― Magic Johnson.

41. “You can’t get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good.”

― Jerry West.

42. “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.

43. “A strong leader accepts blame and gives the credit. A weak leader gives blame and accepts the credit.”

― John Wooden, ‘Wooden On Leadership: How To Create A Winning Organization’.

44. “Success is a result of consistent practice of winning skills and actions. There is nothing miraculous about the process. There is no luck involved.”

― Bill Russell.

45. “The game has its ups and downs, but you can never lose focus of your individual goals and you can’t let yourself be beat because of lack of effort.”

― Michael Jordan.

46. “The important thing is that your teammates have to know you’re pulling for them and you really want them to be successful.”

― Kobe Bryant.

47. “It’s ok to make mistakes. That’s how we learn. When we compete, we make mistakes.”

― Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

48. “I believe you win games by what you do from your first practice until your first game.”

― Dr. Jack Ramsay.

49. “Be a dreamer. If you don’t know how to dream, you’re dead.”

― Jim Valvano.

50. “There are only two options regarding commitment… you’re either in or you’re out. There’s no such thing as life in-between.”

―Pat Riley.

51. “If you are afraid of failure you don’t deserve to be successful!”

― Charles Barkley.

52. “Winning is overemphasized. The only time it is really important is in surgery and war.”

― Al McGuire.

53. “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.

54. “My whole life, people have doubted me. My mom did. People told me in high school I'm too short and not fast enough to play basketball. They didn’t know my story. Because if they did, they’d know that anything is possible.”

― Jimmy Butler.

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

— John Wooden.

56. “Create unselfishness as the most important team attribute.”

— Bill Russell.

Basketball Coaching Quotes


Quotes from coaches about the learning aspect of the sport.

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

― Dean Smith.

58. “You have a choice to make when you’re not playing. Either you’re invested and a great teammate or you’re not.”

― Brad Stevens.

59. “Defense is one man guarding the ball and four others helping him.”

― Mike Krzyzewski.

60. “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”

Phil Jackson.

61. “Good players want to be coached... Great players want to be told the truth.”

― Doc Rivers.

62. “There is a lot of basketball beyond our control, but a player should never let anyone try harder than he does.”

― Dean Smith.

63. “‘Play the right way’ means play unselfishly, respect each other’s achievements, play hard, fulfill your role.”

― Gregg Popovich.

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

― Jeff Van Gundy.

65. “It takes three things to be a ‘special’ player: talent, character, and competitive fire.”

― Kevin Eastman.

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

― Phil Jackson.

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

― Bob Knight.

68. “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.

69. “No one plays this or any game perfectly. It’s the guy who recovers from his mistakes who wins.”

― Phil Jackson.

70. “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.

Basketball Quotes For Girls

Great basketball quotes about hard work for the aspiring players and casual followers!

71. “Discover your gift, develop your gift, and then give it away every day.”

― Don Meyer.

72. “With the absence of pressure, it’s hard to do great things.”

― Geno Auriemma.

73. “Evaluate wins and losses objectively, focusing more on effort and execution than on the outcome of the game.”

― Morgan Wootten.

74. “Bottom line – if you want success of any kind; you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable.”

― Tim Grover.

75. “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.”

― Tim Duncan.

76. “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”

― Henry Ford.

77. “The two ingredients in success in basketball are playing hard and playing intelligently.”

― Pete Carroll.

78. “Keep practicing. Never let anyone tell you’re too small or too slow.”

― Chris Paul.

79. “There's a lot of room to grow, and the women who believe they're worth it are the ones who are going to make good things happen during the next period of WNBA growth.”

―  Sue Wicks.

80. “It’s harder to stay on top than it is to climb. Continue to seek new goals.”

Pat Summitt.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly quotes for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for basketball quotes then why not take a look at [inspirational baseball quotes] or tennis quotes.

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Written by Rajnandini Roychoudhury

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

Rajnandini Roychoudhury picture

Rajnandini RoychoudhuryBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature. 

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