159 Inspirational and Motivational Basketball Quotes

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The Best Motivational Basketball Quotes to Motivate Your Team

A game of basketball might be just another team sport to some people but what it stands for can be much greater. Motivational basketball quotes are some of the most inspiring of all sports.

Successful teams, those that win NBA championships share more than just a good defense, basketball skills and natural talent. What binds them is a common goal for greatness as a unit.

The perfect basketball player may never exist because it is the strength of the team as a collective which turns points on the board into championship rings.

We’ve picked out 151 great quotes from basketball legends to inspire you. 

If you enjoy reading motivational basketball quotes then check out our article on The 101 Best Boxing And Fighting Motivational Quotes (2021).

Basketball quotes
Motivational Basketball quotes

9 Inspirational Basketball Quotes

“I love seeing my teammates succeed. That’s what I get more excited about than anything” – LeBron James

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

“Remember this, the choices you make in life, make you” – John Wooden

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” – Michael Jordan

“If something works for another school, use it. Don’t act like you are too good to use other ideas.”Hubie Brown

“Great players are willing to give up their own personal achievement for the achievement of the group. It enhances everybody.” – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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

“You can’t win unless you learn how to lose.” – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.” – Kevin Durant

9 Motivational Basketball Quotes

Basketball quotes
Motivational Basketball quotes

“The day I stopped worrying about stats is the day I started winning” – Shaquille O’Neal

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

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

“Push yourself to keep improving or you’ll stay as close to the bottom as you are to the top” – John Wooden

“Successful programs consist of people working hard, working together, while never worrying about who gets the credit.” Don Meyer 

“I really get motivated when I have doubters.”Shaquille O’Neal

“Confidence comes from being prepared” – John Wooden 

“Inferior guards play on the sidelines and great guards play in the middle. Isiah, Magic, Chris Paul, all get to the middle” – Rick Pitino

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

12 Of The Best Basketball Quotes

Basketball quotes
Motivational Basketball quotes

“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

 

“This is a team game and one man doesn’t win and one man doesn’t lose. In the end, the best team usually wins” – Wilt Chamberlain

“I can’t make every decision for you. I don’t have 14 timeouts. You guys got to get together and talk” – Gregg Popovich

“A coach must never forget that he is a leader and not merely a person with authority” – John Wooden

I was a Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan fan growing up.” – Lebron James

“I believe that good things come to those who work.” – Wilt Chamberlain 

“We try to stress the little things because little things lead to big things.”Steve Alford 

“Good, better, best. Never let it rest.

Until your good is better and your better is best.” – Tim Duncan 

“Be strong in body, clean in mind, lofty in ideals” – James Naismith

“Yeah, I’m going to try to win the national championship next year. But I’m not going to kill myself doing it. I’m not going to kill my players either. You really start to realize there’s a lot more to what we’re trying to do then winning games.” – Geno Auriemma

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

“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” – Jason Kidd

“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.”

Motivational Quotes from Basketball's Great Players

Motivational basketball quotes come from those who have walked through fire and achieved greatness, just like these guys below.

15 Michael Jordan Quotes

Basketball quotes
Motivational Basketball quotes

“Limits, like fears, are often just an illusion” 

“I’m a firm believer in goal setting. Step by step. I can’t see any other way of accomplishing anything” 

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

“Accept a loss as a learning experience, and never point fingers at your teammates” 

“Success doesn’t stop when you get there” 

“If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them” 

“There have been times when I have failed. But there have never been times when I thought I would fail” 

“Being afraid on the court means you’re not confident of your skills” 

“I don’t do things half-heartedly. Because I know if I do, then I can expect half-hearted results” 

“Heart is what separates the good from the great” 

“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” 

“I’m not out there sweating for 3 hrs just to find out what it’s like to sweat” 

“If it turns out that my best wasn’t good enough, at least I won’t look back and say that I was afraid to try” 

“Sometimes, things may not go your way, but the effort should be there every single night” 

“You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them”

7 Kobe Bryant Quotes

Basketball quotes
Motivational Basketball quotes

“It’s not about the number of hours you practice, it’s about the number of hours your mind is present during the practice”

“You always have to be on edge. You always have to take every practice, every game, like it is your last” 

“Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise.”

“Once you know what failure feels like, determination chases success.”

“I can’t relate to lazy people. We don’t speak the same language. I don’t understand you. I don’t want to understand you.”

“The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.”

“If you don’t believe in yourself, no one will do it for you”

9 Magic Johnson Quotes

Basketball quotes
Motivational Basketball quotes

“Any guy who can maintain a positive attitude without much playing time earns my respect”

“All kids need is a little help, a little hope and somebody who believes in them”

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

“Everybody on a championship team doesn’t get publicity, but everyone can say they are a champion”

“In life, winning and losing will both happen. What is never acceptable is quitting.”

“Talent is never enough. With few exceptions the best players are the hardest workers.” 

“You’re the only one who can make the difference. Whatever your dream is, go for it.”

“You don’t have to be Magic to be special. You’re already special, you’re you.”

“I motivate others by making sure that they understand to go after their dreams and don’t let anyone tell you you can’t. If you are motivated enough and put the work in that you can achieve anything in life that you set your mind to.”

11 Larry Bird Quotes

Basketball quotes
Motivational Basketball quotes

“Leadership is diving for a loose ball. It’s about being able to take it as well as dish it out. That’s the only way your going to get respect from other players”

“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”

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

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

“When I was young, I never wanted to leave the court until I got things exactly correct. My dream was to become a pro”

“It doesn’t matter who scores the points. It’s who gets the ball to the scorer”

“Once you are labeled ‘the best’ you want to stay up there, and you can’t do it by loafing around”

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

“Coaches can talk and talk and talk about something, but if you get it on tape and show it to them, it is so much more effective”

“Don’t let winning make you soft. Don’t let losing make you quit. Don’t let your teammates down in any situation”

“There are many times when you are better off practicing than playing; but most people just don’t understand that”

4 Jerry West Quotes

Basketball quotes
Motivational Basketball quotes

“Confidence is everything in this game, if you don’t think you can, you won’t”

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

“Don’t let talent get in the way of team performance. Great players do what’s outstanding for team, not what makes them stand out”

“Anything can happen with hard work and dedication”

9 Bill Russell Quotes

Basketball quotes
Motivational Basketball quotes

“Create unselfishness as the most important team attribute”

“Concentration and mental toughness are the margins of victory”

“The most important thing to me is the friends that I’ve made”

“The most important measure of how good a game I played was how much better I’d made my teammates play”

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

“Commitment separates those who live their dreams from those who live their lives regretting the opportunities they have squandered”

“What distinguishes a great player is his presence. When he goes on to the court, his presence dominates the atmosphere”

“The only important statistic is the final score.”

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

Great Quotes from Legendary Coaches

25 John Wooden Quotes

Basketball quotes
Motivational Basketball quotes

“The most important key to achieving great success is to decide upon your goal and launch, get started, take action, move”

“When the legs go, the heart soon follows”

“Young men need more models, not critics”

“I do not judge success based on championships; rather, I judge it on how close we came to realizing our potential”

“My philosophy of defense is to keep the pressure on an opponent until you get to his emotions”

“The more concerned we become over the things we can’t control, the less we will do with the things we can control”

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

“I continually stress to my players that all I expect from them at practice and in the games is their maximum effort”

“I found the bench to be the greatest ally when I had to make individuals comply with what was best for the team”

“The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother”

“Be quick without hurrying”

“It’s important to keep trying to do what you think is right no matter how hard it is or how often you fail. Never stop trying”

“When opportunity comes, it’s too late to prepare”

“Let me give so much time to the improvement of myself that I shall have no time to criticize others”

“Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability”

“A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment”

“A player who makes a team great is better than a great player”

“The best competition I have is against myself to become better”

“Seek opportunities to show you care. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference”

“You discipline those under your supervision to correct, to help, and to improve. Not to punish”

“You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one”

“Discipline yourself, and others won’t need to”

“The true athlete should have character, not be a character”

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

“Leaders are interested in finding the best way rather than having their own way”

25 Phil Jackson Quotes

Basketball quotes
Motivational Basketball quotes

“Wisdom is always an overmatch for strength.”

“You have to be able to psychologically help your players, support-wise, be in touch with them, so I think managing people is very important.”

“Leadership is not about forcing your will on others. It’s about mastering the art of letting go.”

“What I liked about basketball was how interconnected everything was.”

“The most we can hope for is to create the best possible conditions for success, then let go of the outcome.”

“Winning was fine—in fact, my mother was one of the most fiercely competitive people I’ve ever met—but reveling in your own success was considered an insult to God.”

“Maybe I should have ended it there, with the crowd roaring and confetti raining down. But life is never quite so well scripted.”

“What I discovered after years of meditation practice is that… you start developing a much deeper awareness of what’s going on, right here, right now.”

“I’ve always been impressed by Kobe’s resilience and ironclad self-confidence… If someone set the bar at ten feet, he’d jump eleven.”

“From that point on, I felt confident enough to throw my whole mind, body, and soul into what I loved—and that, as much as anything, has been the secret of my success in sports.”

 “Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the me for the we.”

“The bigger your head, the easier to fill your shoes.”

“Hearing the unheard. That’s a skill everyone in the group needs, not just the leader.”

“If we can accept whatever hand we’ve been dealt – no matter how unwelcome – the way to proceed eventually becomes clear.”

“When I joined the Bulls in 1987 as an assistant coach, my colleague Tex Winter taught me a system, known as the triangle offense, that aligned perfectly with the values of selflessness and mindful awareness I’d been studying in Zen Buddhism.”

“Three aspects of Zen have been critical to me as a leader: Giving up control, trusting the moment, and living with compassion.”

“There’s a Zen saying I often cite that goes, ‘Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water’.”

“The best analogy I can think of is the intense emotional connection that great warriors experience in the heat of battle.”

“Basketball takes place at such a lightning pace that it’s easy to make mistakes and get obsessed with what just happened or what might happen next.”

“Basketball players don’t risk their lives every day like soldiers in Afghanistan, but in many ways the same principle applies.”

“Basketball is a simple game… and there are three ways to do that. Pass, dribble and offensive rebound.”

“We were playing the game the way the ‘basketball gods’ had ordained: reading defenses on the move and reacting in unison like a finely tuned jazz combo.”

“The very thing that attracts most people to basketball in the first place: the inherent beauty of the game.”

“The key was getting a critical mass of players to buy into a more selfless approach to the game.”

“It takes a number of critical factors to win an NBA championship, including the right mix of talent, creativity, intelligence, toughness, and, of course, luck.”

25 Mike Krzyzewski Quotes

Basketball quotes
Motivational Basketball quotes

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

“Everyone wants to be on a team. They want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They want to be in a situation where they feel that they are doing something for the greater good”

“I’m looking for players who make their teammates better. You do that with enthusiasm and passion”

“Everybody wants to take responsibility when you win, but when you fail, all these fingers are pointing”

“Every season is a journey. Every journey is a lifetime”

“A common mistake among those who work in sport is spending a disproportionate amount of time on “x’s and o’s” as compared to time spent learning about people”

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

“If what you did yesterday still looks big to you… You haven’t done much today” 

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

“Play and practice like you are trying to make the team” 

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

“Don’t confuse your path with your destination. Just because it’s stormy now doesn’t mean you aren’t headed for sunshine” 

“Effort is fully replenishable. There is no need to save any of it. Leave every bit you have on the playing field” 

“You don’t just be a team. You become a team. Through tough games you find that you need each other” 

“The thing I love the most about teaching, is that you can connect with and see an individual or group exceed their limits” 

“Goals should be realistic, attainable, and shared among all members of the team” 

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

“Believe that the loose ball that you are chasing has your name written on it” 

“If a team cannot perform with excellence at a moment’s notice, they probably will fail in the long run” 

“There are 5 fundamental qualities that make every team great: communication, trust, collective responsibility, caring, and pride” 

“I don’t look at myself as a basketball coach. I look at myself as a leader who happens to coach basketball” 

“I have a rule on my team: when we talk to one another, we look each other right in the eye, because I think it’s tough to lie to somebody. You give respect to somebody” 

“Footwork is one of the primary prerequisites to becoming a great player” 

“Each group and each youngster is different. As a leader or coach, you get to know what they need” 

“If the only reason I coached was to win basketball games, my life would be pretty shallow” 

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