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90 Basketball Quotes on Self-Motivation and Team Work

90 Basketball Quotes on Self-Motivation and Team Work

Basketball is one of the most popular sports played all around the world. The game was invented in 1891 by a Canadian American physical educator named James Naismith.

As a sports coach, Naismith sought a new game to keep his students active during winter and rainy days. It had to be something really appealing as his class would quickly get bored, so the idea of shooting hoops came to mind.

Basketball was initially played with a soccer ball and instead of a basketball net, the players used a peach basket that had a bottom and the balls had to be manually retrieved after each point scored.

Nowadays, with millions of fans out there to support them, basketball players never cease to show their skills and commitment to their game. They’re a constant proof of what the human body is capable of and they often motivate their fans to strive harder and do whatever it takes to reach their goals.

And since the sport is such a terrific source of motivation, here is our collection of basketball quotes gathered from your favorite coaches and professional players of all the successful teams in the industry.

Here are basketball quotes on self-motivation and teamwork:


"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

"Ask not what your teammates can do for you. Ask what you can do for your teammates."

-- Magic Johnson

There is no such thing as a perfect basketball player, and I don't believe there is only one greatest player either.

-- Michael Jordan

“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

"A bad day coaching basketball is better than a good day doing almost anything else."

-- Bob Hurley

“I was born to play basketball. There’s no question about it. That’s it. And I’m saying this in my humblest opinion, I do feel that I was born to play this game. I breathe it, I live it.” 

--Jamal Crawford

“I treated it like every day was my last day with a basketball.”

-- LeBron James

"Everything negative -- pressure, challenges -- are all an opportunity for me to rise."

-- Kobe Bryant

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"Discipline is doing what has to be done, when it has to be done, as well as it can be done, and doing it that way all the time."

– Bobby Knight

"Great players are willing to give up their own personal achievement for the achievement of the group. It enhances everybody."

-- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

"You can't get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good."

-- Jerry West

“Losing is only temporary and not all-encompassing. You must simply study it, learn from it, and try hard not to lose the same way again. Then you must have the self-control to forget about it.”

-- John Wooden

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.

-- Michael Jordan

"We want men here, not just players. Players are a dime a dozen."

--Tom Izzo

"Do your best when no one is looking. If you do that, then you can be successful at anything you put your mind to."

-- Bob Cousy

“I’m not really a big X’s and O’s guy, but if you want to go there, I’m more of a space-the-floor type of coach: Five out, zero in, and that’s the way we play basketball, screen and roll here and there, pocket passes everywhere; it’s what it’s about.”

-- Kyrie Irving

"I believe the only muscles you need in basketball are the ones in your brain.”

-- Nikola Jokic

“If you quit once it becomes a habit. Never quit!”

-- Michael Jordan

“I tell kids to pursue their basketball dreams, but I tell them to not let that be their only dream.”

-- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

“You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.”

--  Michael Jordan

“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.”

-- Larry Bird

"I don't look at myself as a basketball coach. I look at myself as a leader who happens to coach basketball."

-- Mike Krzyzewski

"If you're trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I've had them; everybody has had them. But 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."

-- Michael Jordan

“As a kid, my favorite subject was recess. Why? Because I could go play basketball.”

--Donovan Mitchell

“Everyone has the fire, but the champions know when to ignite the spark.”

-- Amit Ray

“I just go out there and play basketball. I’m not worried about missing. I just got to be thinking about the next shot.”

-- Jamal Murray

"There are five fundamental qualities that make every team great: communication, trust, collective responsibility, caring and pride. I like to think of each as a separate finger on the fist. Any one individually is important. But all of them together are unbeatable."

-- Mike Krzyzewski

"Push yourself again and again. Don't give an inch until the final buzzer sounds."

-- Larry Bird

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


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.

– Larry Bird

Create unselfishness as the most important team attribute

– Bill Russell

Basketball is a lifelong game. You continue to learn from the game day in and day out, and all along the way, you get better.

-- Scottie Pippen

“Bad things do happen; how you respond to them defines your character and the quality of your life. You can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of your loss or you can choose to rise from the pain…”

-- Walter Anderson

"There is a lot of basketball beyond our control, but a player should never let anyone try harder than he does."

– Dean Smith

“You can’t win unless you learn how to lose.”

-- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

"Basketball isn't just a sport. It is an art, one that must be mastered to succeed."

-- Steph Curry

"Coaches win practices, players win games." 

-- Pete Carril

"When I lose the sense of motivation and the sense to prove something as a basketball player, it's time for me to move away from the game."

-- Michael Jordan

"I really get motivated when I have doubters."

-- Shaquille O’Neal


"You can't get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good."

–- Jerry West

"In basketball, as in life, true joy comes from being fully present in each and every moment, not just when things are going your way."

-- Phil Jackson

“You can have discipline and be demanding without being demeaning.”

-- Don Meyer

"Maybe it’s my own fault. Maybe I led you to believe it was easy when it wasn’t. Maybe I made you think my highlights started at the free throw line, and not in the gym. Maybe I made you think that every shot I took was a game winner. That my game was built on flash, and not fire. Maybe it’s my fault that you didn’t see that failure gave me strength; that my pain was my motivation. Maybe I led you to believe that basketball was a God given gift, and not something I worked for every single day of my life. Maybe I destroyed the game. Or maybe you’re just making excuses."

- Michael Jordan

"Basketball is a game of mental toughness. It´s about being able to push through adversity and never giving up."

-- Blake Griffin

"Team work is the beauty of our sport, where you have five acting as one".

-- Mike Krzyzewski

"If you are afraid of failure you don't deserve to be successful!"

-- Charles Barkley

"If you’re not talking, you’re not playing defense."

-- Doc Rivers

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

-- Bill Russell

"Basketball isn't easy. All my life I've been striving to make myself better. It's a full time commitment. To be the best, you have to work the hardest. You have to chase what seems impossible over and over and over again, because giving up is not an option, and when you feel like you've reached your limit, it's only the beginning, that's when the time to dig deep, to find the courage to push some more, because if you've got the drive, the discipline, and the resolve to do what it takes to make yourself great, then the rewards are endless."

-- Lebron James

"My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength."

-- Michael Jordan

"Basketball is a beautiful game when the five players on the court play with one heartbeat."

-- Dean Smith

"When you're not practicing, someone else is getting better".

-- Allen Iverson

“Desire outweighs footwork when it comes to crashing the glass.”

-- Bill Self

"I know that the hard work got me here. And the day I stop working hard, this can all go away."

--Kevin Durant

“One player’s selfish attitude can poison the locker room and make it hard, if not impossible, to establish teamwork.”  

-- Dean Smith

"It's not how big you are, it's how big you play."

-- Unknown

"Team Spirit—an eagerness to sacrifice personal glory for the welfare of all—is a tangible driving force that transforms individuals who are “doing their jobs correctly” into an organization whose members are totally committed to working at their highest levels for the good of the group. Members of such an organization are unselfish, considerate, and put the goals of the organization above their own, even at the expense of their own personal desires. When this happens—and the leader is the one who makes it happen—the result is almost magical.”

-- John Wooden

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

-- Larry Brown

"I have self-doubt. I have insecurity. I have fear of failure. I have nights when I show up at the arena and I'm like, 'My back hurts, my feet hurt, my knees hurt. I don't have it. I just want to chill.' We all have self-doubt. You don't deny it, but you also don't capitulate to it. You embrace it."

-- Kobe Bryant

"Great effort springs naturally from great attitude."

-- Pat Riley

“Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.”

-- Mike Singletary

"Discover your gift, develop your gift, and then give it away every day."

–- Don Meyer

"The key to being a great basketball player is to have a strong mental game and to always be focused on the task at hand."

-- Steph Curry

“Basketball isn’t a game; It’s an art form. You master the fundamentals so you can forget ’em, so you can improvise and just concentrate on what really matters: getting buckets.”

-– Kyrie Irving

“They said playing basketball would kill me. Well, not playing basketball was killing me.”

-- Magic Johnson

“When I had troubles, I’d go out – with basketball, you can do it by yourself, too. So you’d go out and shoot, and you’d fantasize.”

-- Mike Krzyzewski

“Everyone is born with a certain potential. You may never achieve your full potential, but how close you come depends on how much you want to pay the price.”

-- Red Auerbach

“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

“Excellence is a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.”

-- Shaquille O’Neal

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

-- Bill Russell 

"Winning takes talent; to repeat takes character."

-- John Wooden

"Basketball is a team game, and the only way to be successful is to work together and trust each other."

-- Dwayne Wade

“Nervous means you want to play. Scared means you don't want to play.”

-- Sherman Alexie

"To be successful you have to be selfish, or else you never achieve. And once you get to your highest level, then you have to be unselfish. Stay reachable. Stay in touch. Don't isolate."

-- Michael Jordan

"Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there."

-- John Wooden

"Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile."

-- Vince Lombardi

"Winning teams at the NBA level, the college level, and the high school level all play team basketball. Championship teams have five players on the same page at all times."

-- Hubie Brown

“You don’t play against opponents, you play against the game of basketball."

-- Bobby Knight

"Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the Me for the We."

-- Phil Jackson

“The hardest skill to acquire in this sport is the one where you compete all out, give it all you have, and you are still getting beat no matter what you do. When you have the killer instinct to fight through that, it is very special.”

-- Eddie Reese

"The most important thing in basketball is to have a positive attitude and to always believe in yourself and your abilities."

-- Dwight Howard

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

--Bill Russell

“Basketball is a team game. But that doesn’t mean all five players should have the same amount of shots.”

–- DeanSmith

“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'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

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