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Greatest Basketball Quotes of All Time

Basketball Quotes

Basketball Quotes

Ever since James Naismith first attached a peach basket to a gym railing 10 feet above the floor, basketball has produced some remarkable (and sometimes, remarkably funny) insights about competition, and about life. Here's a sample of our favorite basketball sports quotes.

  • “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
  • “One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team.” — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  • “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
  • “We try to stress the little things because little things lead to big things.” — Steve Alford
  • “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
  • “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
  • “The only difference between a good shot and a bad shot is if it goes in or not.” — Charles Barkley
  • “I always laugh when people ask me about rebounding techniques. I’ve got a technique. It’s called just go get the damn ball.” — Charles Barkley
  • “Yeah Ernie, it's called defense, I mean I wouldn’t know anything about it personally but I’ve heard about it through the grapevine.” — Charles Barkley
  • “You got to believe in yourself. Hell, I believe I’m the best-looking guy in the world and I might be right.” — Charles Barkley
  • “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.” — Charles Barkley
  • “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
  • “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
  • “All the successful teams I’ve ever seen have three characteristics: They play unselfish, they play together, and they play hard.” — Larry Brown
  • “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.” — Tim Duncan
  • “Not only is there more to life than basketball, there’s a lot more to basketball than basketball.” — Phil Jackson
  • “Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the Me for the We.” — Phil Jackson
  • “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
  • “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
  • “Me shooting 40% at the foul line is just God's way to say nobody's perfect.” — Shaquille O’Neal
  • “The idea is not to block every shot. The idea is to make your opponent believe that you might block every shot.” — Bill Russell
  • “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
  • “I’ve missed more than 9,000 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
  • “I would tell players to relax and never think about what's at stake. Just think about the basketball game. If you start to think about who is going to win the championship, you've lost your focus.” — Michael Jordan
  • “You don’t play against opponents, you play against the game of basketball.” — Bobby Knight
  • “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
  • “I'm still waiting for perfection. In the meantime, I’ll settle for persistence.” — Bo Ryan
  • “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.” — John Wooden
  • “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” — John Wooden
  • “They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they'd make up their minds.” — Wilt Chamberlain
  • “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
  • “I hate it. It looks like a stickup at 7-Eleven. Five guys standing there with their hands in the air.” — Norm Sloan, on zone defense
  • “We’re shooting 100 percent — 60 percent from the field and 40 percent from the free-throw line.” — Norm Stewart
  • “This year we plan to run and shoot. Next season we hope to run and score.” — Billy Tubbs

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