Basketball Quotes

If you’re looking for some clever, funny, and good basketball quotes, you’ve come to the right place. Scroll through all of the quotes we have on this page, but also make sure to check out our menu of quote pages by players’ names and coaches’ names at the bottom of the page. There are overall 2,000 basketball quotes in all on our site.

A well-chosen basketball quote can unite a fan base, excite your team players, and provide the spark you need. Please read on.

Best Basketball Quotes and Sayings

These quotes serve as great motivation to athletes and coaches of all ages. If you have any additions you’d like to share, please submit them through our “Contact Us” page.

Basketball quotes image

Best Basketball Quotes

1.) Winning is like deodorant – it comes up and a lot of things don’t stink.
Doc Rivers

2.) I haven’t been able to slam-dunk the basketball for the past five years. Or, for the thirty-eight years before that, either.
Dave Barry

3.) There are really only two plays: Romeo and Juliet, and put the darn ball in the basket.
Abe Lemmons

4.) Winning is overrated. The only time it is really important is in surgery and war.
Al McGuire

Youth basketball practice plans endorsement
“The Gold Standard”

5.) I hate it. It looks like a stickup at 7-Eleven. Five guys standing there with their hands in the air.
Norm Sloan, commenting on zone defense

6.) We’re shooting 100 percent – 60 percent from the field and 40 percent from the free-throw line.
Norm Stewart

7.) The biggest thing is just routine. I think that’s the biggest correlation between golfers and basketball players.
Steph Curry

Also, check out our basketball slogans and sayings.

Funny Basketball Quotes

8.) When I dunk, I put something on it. I want the ball to hit the floor before I do.
Darryl Dawkins

9.) The secret is to have eight great players and four others who will cheer like crazy.
Jerry Tarkanian

10.) When I went to Catholic high school in Philadelphia, we just had one coach for football and basketball. He took all of us who turned out and had us run through a forest. The ones who ran into the trees were on the football team.
George Raveling

11.) Fans never fall asleep at our games, because they’re afraid they might get hit by a pass.
George Raveling

12.) I know the Virginia players are smart because you need 1,500 SAT scores to get in. I have to drop bread crumbs to get our players to and from class.
George Raveling

13.) Any American boy can be a basketball star if he grows up, up, up.
Bill Vaughn

14.) This year we plan to run and shoot. Next season we hope to run and score.
Billy Tubbs

15.) I liked the choreography, but I didn’t care for the costumes.
Tommy Tune, on why he doesn’t play basketball

Bill Russell quote on shot blocking image

Basketball Quotes on the Game – Author Unknown

16.) It is not how big you are, it’s how big you play.

17.) Habits are first cobwebs, then cables.

18.) When you’re through improving, you’re through.

19.) Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass; it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.

20.) The more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle.

21.) Pain is nothing compared to what it feels like to quit.

22.) The man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.

23.) Losers quit when they’re tired. Winners quit when they’ve won.

24.) My responsibility is getting all my players playing for the name on the front of the jersey, not the one on the back.

25.) If you think small things don’t matter, think of the last game you lost by one point.

26.) Basketball doesn’t build character it reveals it.

27.) Don’t be afraid to ask dumb questions.  They’re easier to take than dumb mistakes.

Check out: 737+ Team Names page.

Inspiring Basketball Quotes

28.) I try to do the right thing at the right time. They may just be little things, but usually, they make the difference between winning and losing.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

29.) One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

30.) You have to be able to center yourself, to let all of your emotions go. Don’t ever forget that you play with your soul as well as your body.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

31.) We try to stress the little things because little things lead to big things.
Steve Alford

32.) Basketball is like a war in that offensive weapons are developed first, and it always takes a while for the defense to catch up.
Red Auerbach

33.) The best way to forget one’s self is to look at the world with attention and love.
Red Auerbach

34.) Just do what you do best.
Red Auerbach

35.) Great players are willing to give up their own personal achievement for the achievement of the group. It enhances everybody.
Kareem Abdul-Jabaar

31.) The reason we win games is not typical of a top 5 team. We’re winning on execution and heart and guts and playing smart.
Mark Few

36.) Do you know how I learned to shoot? I watched white people. Just regular white people. They really put their elbow in and finish up top. You can find videos of them online.
Joel Embiid


Hoops practice plans bundles image

Famous Basketball Quotes

37.) Natural abilities are like natural plants; they need pruning by study.
Red Auerbach

38.) 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

39.) I don’t hire good coaches, I hire good people. If they turn out to be good coaches, too, that’s a plus.
Geno Auriemma

40.) 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.
Charles Barkley

41.) The only difference between a good shot and a bad shot is if it goes in or not.
Charles Barkley

42.) If you are afraid of failure you don’t deserve to be successful!
Charles Barkley


basketball certificates imageBasketball Certificate Maker and Coaching Forms

Inspirational Quotations on Hoops

43.) Coaching is easy. Winning is the hard part.
Elgin Baylor

44.) What you specifically teach is what your players will do best.
Dick Bennett

45.) Practice to beat the best.
Dick Bennett

46.) When I was young, I never wanted to leave the court until I got things exactly correct. My dream was to become a pro.
Larry Bird

47.) 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

48.) Push yourself again and again. Don’t give an inch until the final buzzer sounds.
Larry Bird

49.) 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

50.) Criticize on defense and encourage on offense.
John Brady

51.) If you want team play, you must stress defense. Defense makes players unselfish.
John Brady

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

It’s a Mental Game

53.) The trouble with officials is they just don’t care who wins.
Tommy Canterbury

54.) A guy who gives you less than what he has to give is, one, telling you what he thinks of you, and two, telling you what he thinks of himself.
Pete Carill

55.) The two ingredients in success in basketball are playing hard and playing intelligently.
Pete Carill

56.) Everybody pulls for David, nobody roots for Goliath.
Wilt Chamberlain

57.) Do your best when no one is looking. If you do that, then you can be successful in anything that you put your mind to.
Bob Cousy

58.) I don’t try to get players emotionally up for a game; it creates too many peaks and valleys… I strive for even keel; they will get up for the big games.
Denny Crum

59.) Success doesn’t stop when you get there.
Michael Jordan

60.) The difference in winning and losing is most often… not quitting.
Walt Disney


61.) Systems win! Believe in your system, and then sell it to your players.
Billy Donovan

62.) We have a great bunch of outside shooters. Unfortunately, all our games are played indoors.
Weldon Drew

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

64.) To be a great teacher of the game you must study the game; know your craft & be proud of your knowledge, but never satisfied with your knowledge.
Kevin Eastman

65.) To be great we need to win games we aren’t supposed to win.
Julius Erving

66.) I keep both eyes on my man. The basket hasn’t moved on me yet.
Julius Erving

67.) If you don’t do what’s best for your body, you’re the one who comes up on the short end.
Julius Erving

68.) Sometimes this thing becomes bigger than life itself. It isn’t.
Mark Few

69.) If you are going to take it to the bank, then you better cash it in.
Shannon Fish

70.) Basketball is like photography, if you don’t focus, all you have is the negative.
Dan Frisby

71.) We win because we play together as a team.
John Havlicek

72.) I keep both eyes on my man. The basket hasn’t moved on me yet.
Julius Erving

73.) Not only is there more to life than basketball, but there’s also a lot more to basketball than basketball.
Phil Jackson

Hoops Sayings

74.) Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the Me for the We.
Phil Jackson

75.) You can’t be afraid to fail.  It’s the only way you succeed…you’re not gonna succeed all the time, and I know that.
LeBron James

76.) I like criticism. It makes you strong.
LeBron James

77.) Sometimes, adrenaline flows into momentum.
Dennis Johnson

78.) Ask not what your teammates can do for you. Ask what you can do for your teammates.
Magic Johnson

Bob Knight Basketball Quotes

79.) The key is not the “will to win” – everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.

80.) My practices were not set up to be easy or enjoyed.

81.) The goal is to make practice more difficult, physically/mentally, than anything your players will face during a game.

82.) Basketball is a full-court game, so every drill must be done full court.

83.) Passing is your best weapon against man to man. Dribble penetration is your best weapon against a zone.

84.) You don’t play against opponents. You play against the game of basketball.
Bob Knight

Good Basketball Sayings

85.) Prepare for every game like you just lost your last game.
Lon Kruger

86.) Believe that the loose ball that you are chasing has your name written on it.
Mike Krzyzewski

87.) One day of practice is like one day of clean living. It doesn’t do you any good.
Abe Lemmons (one of the funniest sources)

88.) You always have to give 100%, because if you don’t someone, somewhere will give 100% and they will beat you when you meet.
Ed Macauley

89.) I never thought I’d lead the NBA in rebounding, but I got a lot of help from my team-mates – they did a lot of missing.
Moses Malone

Coaching Special

Basketball practice coaching bundle image


Player Quotes

90.) Basketball is the MTV of sports.
Sara Levinson

91.) They don’t pay you a million dollars for two-hand chest passes.
Pete Maravich

92.) There is nothing wrong with dedication and goals, but if you focus on yourself, all the lights fade away and you become a fleeting moment in life.
Pete Maravich

93.) There is nothing wrong with dedication and goals, but if you focus on yourself, all the lights fade away and you become a fleeting moment in life.
Pete Maravich

94.) When I was losing, they called me nuts. When I was winning they called me eccentric.
Al McGuire

95.) Help one kid at a time. He’ll maybe go back and help a few more.
Al McGuire

90.) I don’t discuss basketball. I dictate basketball. I’m not interested in philosophy classes.
Al McGuire

96.) To win, you’ve got to put the ball in the macramé.
Terry McGuire

Tip: Use these basketball quotes for team communications, photo captions on Instagram, in season-ending programs, and more.

Don Meyer Insights into the Game

97.) Shout praise and whisper criticism.

98.) In practice, don’t just run basketball drills, teach the players how to play basketball.

99.) Successful programs consist of people working hard, working together, while never worrying about who gets the credit.

100.) There is nothing more important than rebounding…don’t just give it lip service.

101.) It is not what you teach, but what you emphasize.

102.) Good shooters take the shots; best shooters take most of the shots.

103.) You build your program from the ideas of great coaches.

104.) Play off your great player… great teams have a go-to player and they play off of him.

105.) Prepare for every practice like you just lost your last game.

106.) Your program must have an overriding purpose that is clearly visible and which teaches lessons beyond winning.

107.) When you watch the game, be a student of the game.

Basketball Quotes - Don Meyer

Short Basketball Quotes – Don Meyer

108.) The team is an extension of the coach.

109.) When the legs go, the heart and the head follow quickly behind.

110.) Every day you teach attitude.

111.) It is foolish to expect a young man to follow your advice and to ignore your example.

112.) To be a team, you must be a family.

113.) Discipline and demand without being demeaning.

114.) Recognize and reward players who put the team first, not just the gifted ones.

115.) Simplify the game as much as possible. When you add, you must subtract.

Basketball Quotes For Girls

116.) Be strong in body, clean in mind, lofty in ideals.
James Naismith

117.) I learned at a young age to dribble with both hands, and that allows me to be more creative when I go against bigger and stronger opponents.
Steve Nash

118.) Play the game with a smile.
Earl “The Pearl” Monroe

119.) I’m tired of hearing about money, money, money, money, money. I just want to play the game, drink Pepsi, wear Reebok.
Shaquille O’Neal

120.) Sometimes a player’s greatest challenge is coming to grips with his role on the team.
Scottie Pippen

121.) Teams that play together beat those with superior players who play more as individuals.
Jack Ramsay 

Life of Riley – Pat Riley on Basketball

122.) There are only two options regarding commitment; you’re either in or you’re out. There’s no such thing as life in-between.

123.) It’s what you get from games you lose that is extremely important.

124.) Being a part of success is more important than being personally indispensable.

125.) In all the research you do as a coach, studying other coaches and championship-type situations, you find that all those teams combined talent with great defense. You’ve got to stop other teams to win.

Awesome Basketball Quotes

126.) You’ve got to learn the footwork, the positioning, how to box out, how to pass, how to shoot your free throws. All these things are necessary, not to be the No. 1 player in the world, but maybe you can play against him.
Oscar Robertson

127.) Basketball is basketball.
Oscar Robertson

128.) The idea is not to block every shot. The idea is to make your opponent believe that you might block every shot.
Bill Russell

129.) 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.
Dean Smith

130.) What to do with a mistake – recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.
Dean Smith

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

These inspirational quotes can be used for girls or boys teams, on posters and banners and in locker rooms.

Good Basketball Quotes

132.) My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.
Jim Valvano

133.) Other people go to the office. I get to coach. I know I’ve been blessed.
Jim Valvano

134.) You can’t get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good.
Jerry West

135.) Confidence is a lot of this game or any game. If you don’t think you can, you won’t.
Jerry West (Jerry West’s image was used for the NBA logo.)

136.) When it’s played the way is supposed to be played, basketball happens in the air; flying, floating, elevated above the floor, levitating the way oppressed peoples of this earth imagine themselves in their dreams.
John Edgar Wideman

137.) You can run a lot of plays when your X is twice as big as the other guys’ O. It makes your X’s and O’s pretty good.
Paul Westphal

138.) The key to any game is to use your strengths and hide your weaknesses.
Paul Westphal

If you have any suggestions, please let us know via the Contact page. Thanks!

— Mike O’Halloran

Mike is a basketball coach and the author of three basketball books: Never Forget They’re Kids, Layups and Life Lessons, and Youth Basketball Practice PlansHe’s the founder and editor of Sports Feel Good Stories.

Basketball Quotes General Menu

Basketball Quotes (You’re Here!)

Players Quotes Menu

Coaches Menu

You might also like:

Steph Curry Profile

Giannis Antetokounmpo quotes

Kawhi Leonard

Coaching Sayings

Locker Room Slogans

Captions for Basketball Photos

Basketball Jokes

Basketball Court Dimensions