Basketball motivational quotes are fun to read and can sometimes even inspire a team to play their best.
These quotes on the game of basketball come from current and former players, along with coaches and other basketball personalities. They can motivate, make you laugh, or help teams come together.
Motivational Basketball Quotes
1.) I can accept failure; everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.
2.) It’s okay to make mistakes. That’s how we learn. When we compete, we make mistakes.
3.) Do your best when no one is looking. If you do that, then you can be successful in anything you put your mind to.
4.) Nothing is given. Everything is earned.
5.) Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.
6.) I don’t complain about playing time. My job is to play so well the coach can’t sit me.
7.) Goals determine what you’re going to be.
Motivating Basketball Sayings
8.) If you quit once, it becomes a habit. Never quit.
9.) Something doesn’t just pop up under your nose. You have to work for it.
10.) I’m playing; I’m here. I’m going to fight until they tell me they don’t want me anymore.
11.) In order to achieve positive results, one must work for them, not hope for them.
12.) Everybody has talent, but the ability takes hard work.
13.) Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, and others make it happen.
14.) If you do the work, you’ll get rewarded. There are no shortcuts in life.
15.) Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.
16.) Approach the game with no preset agendas, and you’ll probably come away surprised at your overall efforts.
17.) A lot of late nights in the gym, a lot of early mornings, especially when your friends are going out, you’re going to the gym. Those are the sacrifices that you have to make if you want to be an NBA basketball player,
Check out Best Basketball Quotes for Girls.
Game Day Quotes
18.) Being a professional is doing the things you love to do on the days that you don’t feel like doing them.
19.) Basketball is a lifelong game. You continue to learn from the game day in and day out, and along the way, you get better.
20.) 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.
21.) Failure is good. Its fertilizer. Everything I’ve learned about coaching, I’ve learned from making mistakes.
22.) If you want a view from the top, practice, not parties, it will take you where you want to go.
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Inspirational Basketball Quotes
23.) Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.
24.) The number one thing is desire, the ability to do things you have to do to become a basketball player.
25.) Any team can be a miracle team, but you have to go out and work for your miracles.
26.) Everyone wants to do what the great ones do, but very few are willing to do what they did to become great.
27.) Be led by your dreams. Not by your problems.
28.) We have the mentality of the hunter. We want to be the most enthusiastic team in the country. That’s what we can control.
29.) People say, “Relax, the game is over. The game is over.” Well, the game is never over.
30.) 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 in the arena.
31.) I recruit hungry kids who love the game and want to get better and feel they have more questions than answers.
32.) I’m still waiting for perfection. In the meantime, I’ll settle for persistence.
33.) People do not differ in their desire to win; they differ in the price they are willing to pay to win.
34.) Winners aren’t built overnight.
35.) The great teams learn how to win night after night, week after week, season after season, with no letup.
36.) Trying to get by on talent is a fatal mistake.
37.) Money is only part of the dream. The dream is to be whatever you set out to be – to fulfill your potential.
38.) Winning a championship is never easy. And it shouldn’t be.
39.) The only thing harder to handle than winning too much is losing too much.
40.) Systems win! Believe in your system, and then sell it to your players.
41.) To be a great teacher of the game, you must study the game, know your craft & be proud of your knowledge, but never be satisfied with your knowledge.
42.) I like criticism. It makes you strong.
43.) Prepare for every game like you just lost your last game.
44.) You always have to give 100% because if you don’t, someone, somewhere, will give 100%, and they will beat you when you meet.
45.) Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.
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Famous Basketball Quotes
46.) You can’t come to practice half-assed, going through the motions. How you practice is how you play.
47.) You can’t put toughness in someone. You have to go out and battle.
48.) I want to contribute in any way to a great team.
49.) If I’ve learned anything, it’s that you can’t get anything for granted.
50.) There are really only two plays, Romeo and Juliet, and put the darn ball in the basket.
51.) We have a great bunch of outside shooters. Unfortunately, all our games are played indoors.
52.) Fans never fell asleep at our games because they’re afraid they may get hit by a pass.
53.) Any American boy can be a basketball star if he grows up, up, up.
54.) I knew it was time to retire when I was driving down the lane and got called for a three-second violation.
Good Hoops Quotations
55.) The only difference between a bad shot and a good shot is if it goes in or not.
56.) If you meet the Buddha in the lane, feed him the ball.
57.) Shooting is just like toenails. They may fall off occasionally, but you know they’ll always come back.
58.) I’ll always remember this as the night Michael Jordan and I combined for 70 points.
Stacey King, after Michael Jordan scored a playoff record 69 points (Check out Michael Jordan Quotations.)
59.) I never thought I’d lead the NBA in rebounding, but I got a lot of help from my teammates. They did a lot of missing.
Funny Basketball Quotes
60.) In my prime, I could’ve handled Michael Jordan. Of course, he would have only been 12 years old.
61.) A team should be an extension of a coach’s personality. My teams are arrogant and obnoxious.
62.) This year, we plan to run and shoot. Next season we hope to run and score.
63.) This is basketball, not figure skating. You don’t get extra points for the degree of difficulty.
64.) The secret is to have eight great players and four others who will cheer like crazy.
65.) Basketball is like a war in that offensive weapons are developed first, and it always takes a while for the defense to catch up.
66.) When I dunk, I put something on it. I want the ball to hit the floor before I do.
67.) I haven’t been able to slam-dunk the basketball for the past five years. Or, for the thirty-eight years before that, either.
Funny Sayings About Basketball
68.) Me shooting 40 percent from the free-throw line is God’s way of saying that nobody is perfect.
69.) The greatness of Michael Jordan is his competitive drive. The weakness of Michael Jordan is his competitive drive.
70.) I want us to play mother-in-law defense: constant nagging and harassment.
71.) I always laugh when people ask me about rebounding techniques. I’ve got a technique. It’s called just go get the damn ball.
Hilarious Basketball Quotations
71.) Kids are great. That’s one of the best things about our business, all the kids you get to meet. It’s a shame they have to grow up to be regular people and come to the games and call you names.
72.) They shot the ball well early. What comes out of the microwave hot doesn’t always stay hot. I know because I eat bagels in the morning.
73.) Basketball is like photography. If you don’t focus, you’ll only get the negative.
74.) I’m not against taking shots, but I am against taking bad shots.
75.) 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.
76.) They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they’d make up their minds.
77.) You can say something to popes, presidents and kings, but you can’t talk to officials. In the next war, they ought to give everyone a whistle.
78.) Scoring 100 points is a lot, but I maybe could have scored 140 if they had played straight-up basketball.
79.) If you can walk with your head in the clouds and keep your feet on the ground, you can make it in the NBA.
80.) The best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores.
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Basketball Quotes Funny
81.) I really appreciate this award, but I don’t want to win it ever again.
Marcus Denmon, after receiving the Sixth Man of the Team Award for the Missouri Tigers
82.) He makes plays you can’t coach, and he makes plays that look like he’s never been coached.
Bill Self comment on point guard Tyshawn Taylor
83.) You got to believe in yourself. Hell, I believe I’m the best-looking guy in the world, and I might be right.
84.) We’re shooting 100 percent – 60 percent from the field and 40 percent from the free-throw line.
85.) I knew I was dog meat. Luckily, I’m the high-priced dog meat that everybody wants. I’m the good-quality dog meat. I’m the Alpo of the NBA.
86.) Friends can come and go, but banners stay forever.
87.) The other side of this is that a good man has been liberated.
Rick Carlisle, on the firing of coach David Blatt
88.) I don’t tweet. I don’t Google. And I don’t Instagram.
89.) Toronto, to me, is a clean New York.
90.) LeBron James still gets criticism. Jesus still gets criticized.
Great Basketball Quotes
91.) It’s a world 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.
92.) The invention of basketball was not an accident. It was developed to meet a need. Those boys simply would not play drop the handkerchief.
93.) We try to stress the little things. Because little things lead to big things.
94.) The game I invented in 1891 back at the Springfield, Massachusetts YMCA college has had a fine part in the development of better international understanding.
95.) Basketball has been a powerful force for understanding and race relations in our society.
96.) Even when I’m old and gray, I won’t be able to play it, but I’ll still love the game.
Best Basketball Quotes
97.) Play to win. You can’t play tentatively; you can’t play scared.
98.) Basketball is like a game of chess. But until you win the championship, it’s not checkmate.
99.) Basketball is like a really fast-paced game of chess, where every move has its benefits and repercussions.
100.) One day of good practice is like one day of clean living. It doesn’t do you any good.
101.) The only way to find your rhythm is by repetition. Do a thing a thousand times, and pretty soon, you do it easily and gracefully.
102.) The idea is not to block every shot. The idea is to make your opponents believe you might block every shot.
103.) Be a dreamer. If you don’t know how to dream, you’re dead.
104.) The mental approach to things is what separates players at every level.
105.) Blame is the coward’s way out.
106.) I don’t look for excuses when we lose, and I don’t buy excuses when we win.
107.) Believe in yourself. If you believe you can do something, don’t let anybody in the whole world tell you can’t.
108.) Play the game with a smile.
109.) Shooting is nothing. Anybody can shoot. The big thrill is putting on a show for the crowd.
110.) Obviously, there have been times when I’ve failed. But there have never been times when I thought I would fail.
111.) 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.
Game Day Motivation
112.) There is a direct correlation between the number of ball reversals and defensive breakdowns.
113.) 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.
114.) I didn’t have a best move. My best move was just to win.
115.) The ones you can never get out of your mind are the ones you lose when you should have won.
116.) For a basketball official, the highest accolade is silence.
117.) Basketball may have been invented in Massachusetts, but it was made for Indiana.
118.) I don’t believe in statistics. There are too many factors that can’t be measured. You can’t measure a ballplayer’s heart.
119.) If you are a referee, you have no friends.
120.) Learning what not to do is sometimes more important than learning what to do.
Short Basketball Quotes
121.) Today’s society wants to skip the process. And I hate that.
122.) No rebounds – no rings.
123.) Never be ready to play yesterday. Being ready to play today is what’s important.
124.) Always keep an open mind and a compassionate heart.
125.) It’s a battle of wills, not a battle of skills.
126.) Never underestimate the heart of a champion.
127.) Basketball is a game easy to play and difficult to master.
128.) Basketball is sharing.
129.) Sometimes winning a basketball game is just plain luck.
130.) The success of the entire team brings home a championship title.
131.) I really get motivated when I have doubters.
132.) Discipline is not a nasty word.
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Creative Basketball Motivational Quotes
133.) One of the biggest reasons I like coaching college ball is the kids. I feel I can impact players’ lives.
134.) To win the big games, you must get to the free-throw line, and then you must make them.
135.) The people who barbecued me ran out of the sauce.
136.) It was a blessing just to play one NBA game.
137.) It’s not up to anyone else to make me give my best.
Sayings About Basketball
138.) Basketball is a simple game. Your goal is penetration, get the ball close to the basket, and there are three ways to do that. Pass, dribble, and offensive rebound.
139.) Some people worry about statistics, but I worry about winning. Statistics are for losers.
140.) 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.
141.) Ego is a paradox – it is the point from which you see, but it can also make you blind.
142.) Admit to and make yourself accountable for mistakes. How can you improve if you’re never wrong?
143.) The first time you win a championship, it’s a honeymoon. The second time, it’s an odyssey.
144.) That’s the thing about basketball. You don’t play the games on paper.
145.) 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.
146.) Basketball gave me the confidence to speak out and gave me the platform to be heard.
147.) Basketball is a sport that involves the subtle interweaving of players at full speed to the point where they are thinking and moving as one.
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Good Basketball Motivational Quotes
148.) You don’t play against opponents; you play against the game of basketball.
149.) Basketball is a full-court game, so every drill must be done full court.
150.) Have fun doing whatever it is that you desire to accomplish. Learn it one step at a time, emphasizing the fundamentals, and do it because you love it, not because it’s work.
151.) Professional coaches measure success in rings. College coaches measure success in championships. High School coaches measure success to titles. Youth coaches measure success in smiles.
152.) Whenever you lose, there’s going to be criticism. That’s why they invented talk radio.
153.) I would rather have a player who has mastered two or three moves than to try to teach him six or seven.
154.) You must have your player’s heads and hearts before they will do anything for you.
Quotes About Players
155.) In 19 years, Stockton never once lost a suicide drill in practice. Well, there was one day. He was sick. But he still ran it.
Jerry Sloan on John Stockton
156.) Hard work is not a punishment. Hard work is the price of admission for the opportunity to reach sustained excellence.
157.) All great teams have two things in common: defense & rebounding.
158.) 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.
159.) I played against a lot of guys who could jump. But they all came down.
160.) Offense sells tickets. Defense wins games. Rebounds win championships.
161.) There is no glory in rebounding – just victory.
162.) In developing teams, I don’t believe in rules. I believe in standards. Rules don’t promote teamwork; standards do.
Good Motivational Basketball Sayings
163.) I’m just playing basketball. I just want to be a great player. That’s it. That’s all I’m thinking about. If the other stuff comes, it comes, but I’m just fortunate to play in the NBA Finals and just to play basketball, period.
164.) I’d rather block a shot than score.
165.) Defense is the foundation and heart of the game of basketball.
166.) I feel like I have another level every year that I start a new season of basketball. If I continue to keep growing and make everything consistent, I’m going to get better and better each year.
167.) Talent is never enough. With few exceptions, the best players are the hardest workers.
168.) Champions play as they practice. Create a consistency of excellence in all your habits.
169.) Coaches win practices; players win games.
Basketball Motivational Quotes — Inspirational
170.) I believe defense is an art.
171.) Offense is spacing and spacing is offense.
172.) You don’t have to be “on” to play defense. We hang our hats on defense.
173.) Success isn’t the same as talent. The world is full of incredibly talented people who never succeed at anything.
174.) Sometimes, adrenaline flows into momentum.
175.) Success is the best character builder.
Motivating Quotations on Playing Basketball
176.) Never let fundamentals and building skills take a backseat to game planning. Game plans win games. Fundamentals win championships.
177.) If you play hard every night, the fans will be in your corner. That’s what we’re all working toward.
178.) Win, lose or draw; the work itself is what really counts.
179.) Great teams develop total communication on the floor. Basketball intellects mesh perfectly. They never have to call a play.
180.) I still say the most important thing in winning basketball games is chemistry.
181.) Molding a team begins with a clear definition of each player’s role.
182.) I want to leave a mark on society.
183.) People think I’m soft and bailed on basketball. But it was five knee surgeries.
184.) When you still got something in the tank, it’s really hard to let it go.
185.) I lived the dream. God blessed me to live the dream.
186.) Somebody has to lose.
187.) I just tried to make things happen, whether it was my shots or getting shots for other people.
NBA Player Quotes
188.) Guarding LeBron James has to be the hardest job in basketball.
189.) Don’t think. As soon as you start thinking, you miss.
190.) The future is coming so fast we can’t possibly predict it; we can only learn to respond quickly.
191.) I can’t believe how lucky I am.
192.) Great execution. That’s what you have to do when you’re playing great teams.
193.) I knew I could. It’s all confidence. I don’t ever lose that.
194.) I don’t believe in pressure. Pressure doesn’t affect me at all.
195.) There’s nothing about me that is selfish.
196.) I’m never satisfied, never going to be.
197.) When I was young, I never wanted to leave until I got things exactly correct. My dream was to become a pro.
198.) We have a lot of leaders. They put their egos on hold.
199.) It’s not my job to look good. It’s my job to make other people look good.
200.) Winning is about having the whole team on the same page.
201.) 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.
202.)All great players are self-motivated.
How do you motivate a basketball player?
For a basketball coach to motivate a team and individual players, it’s not just one thing. A quote alone won’t do it. It begins by having a base level of knowledge of the game. It requires preparation for practices and games.
Being a good coach entails knowing how to inspire a team. It includes knowing how to demonstrate techniques and explaining not only the how but also the why. It means being honest, being a good communicator, and bringing your passion to the game.
Good preparation includes knowing what your team needs to work on, keeping practices fun, so repetition doesn’t become boring, and when and how to praise players and the team collectively. That is the lion’s share of how to motivate a team. The french dressing, or the cherry-on-top, might include using the quotes at the right time.
By Tom McGowan and Mike O’Halloran
Tom and Mike are sportswriters who both live in St. Paul, Minnesota.
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