50-ish Beautiful Basketball Quotes from Basketball Legends

This is just an epic list of all of the most interesting basketball quotes I’ve come across in my many years of reading about and researching basketball. Most of these are pulled directly from my favorite books on basketball.

I used to be a chef. Part of the motivation for this post is a fantastic cookbook called Ma Gastronomie. It is something like a notebook, assembled by the author of a famous chef, Fernand Point.

The first half of Ma Gastronomie is just quotes from the chef about food and cooking. If you’re obsessed with food there’s a lot of knowledge in those quotes. I found myself, after many many years of culinary practice, that these quotes only became more poignant and more revelatory.

That’s kinda what I’m trying to do here. I wanna the kinds of hoops quotes that need to marinate, that only become more interesting and more poignant as you come to better understand basketball.

My Absolute Favorite Basketball Quotes

Dirk with the knowledge bomb basketball quotes.

All dreams are crazy. Until they come true.

Dirk Nowitski

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

Bill Russell

Shooting percentage is just as much about decision making as it is about technique.

Jeff Van Gundy

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

Larry Brown

A key basketball skill is imagery. The best players “see” situations before they happen so they can be prepared.

Dr. Jack Ramsay

Bad shooters are always open.

Pete Carril

Those to whom defense is not important will have the best seat in the game.

Rick Majerus
Kareem for the Lakers

It’s OK to make mistakes. That’s how we learn. When we compete, we make mistakes.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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

John Wooden

My whole life, people have doubted me. My mom did. People told me in high school I was 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

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.

Michael Jordan

They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they’d make up their minds.

Wilt Chamberlain

I am more than just a Serious basketball fan. I am a life-long Addict. I was addicted from birth, in fact, because I was born in Kentucky.

Hunter S. Thompson

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

Scottie Pippen

We old athletes carry the disfigurements and markings of contests remembered only by us and no one else. Nothing is more lost than a forgotten game.

Pat Conroy

You see this circle? The size of this circle represents everything that I know about basketball. But the size of this ball represents everything about the game that has never been discovered.

Pete Maravich

The only difference between a good shot and a bad shot is if it goes in or not

Charles Barkley

All great athletes essentially come to a fork in the road where they have to change their approach to succeed.

Walt Frazier

Who could better motivate Bill Russell than Bill Russell?

Red Auerbach

The single most important aspect of coaching is running effective practices.

Bob Knight

How good can we expect to be if our best player is not our best teammate.

Brad Stevens

Praise behavior that you want repeated

Dean Smith

I have learned that peace is not the absence of trial, trouble, or torment but the presence of calm in the midst of them.

Don Meyer

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

Gregg Popovich

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

Jim Valvano

What do you do to help us win when you’re not scoring baskets?

John Calipari

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

Mike Krzyzewski

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

Mike Krzyzewski

No rebounds – no rings.

Pat Riley

Discipline is the only sure way I know to convince people to believe in themselves

Pat Summitt

It’s better to have a good player with the basketball in late game situations than to have plays

Rick Pitino

One of the biggest keys to offense is eliminating the weakside help that allows defenders to stop penetration from the wing.

Tom Crean

Not talking on the floor is the least recognized form of selfishness but maybe the most dangerous to your team having success.

Tom Crean

People always talk about going on offensive runs. But you can go on defensive runs too.

Tom Thibodeau

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

It’s not up to anyone else to make me give my best.

Hakeem Olajuwon

I seek to leave the world a litter better place than I found it

James Naismith

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

Jerry Tarkanian

One of the hardest things a player must learn to do is when to start a dribble and when to stop a dribble.

John Thompson

I know the strengths and weaknesses of my teammates. I make my passing decisions accordingly.

Steve Nash

The pick and roll is more about bodies and eyes then speed and being fast

Steve Nash
Steve Nash with 2 sick basketball quotes.


Hey, I hope these basketball quotes are helpful in some way. I know, every so often, if I’m struggling with something, whether it’s on the court or in life, even with working on this site, I come back here and read some quotes and add some new ones and i can help a lot.

If you have any basketball quotes that speak to you personally, or basketball quotes that are missing here, let em know about it. – [email protected]