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The 100 Best Sports Quotes of All Time

Zack PumerantzAnalyst IIIOctober 25, 2011

The 100 Best Sports Quotes of All Time

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    While sports are known for producing the most remarkable athletes, colorful characters, influential leaders and memorable heroes; its fans have only seen a small throng of individuals leave as significant a legacy with their words as they have with their ability.

    From legends to sportswriters and wannabe stars to fiery coaches, these individuals have never seemed to hesitate when speaking their minds, even at the expense of grammatical respect.

    Their words have left some puzzled and others inspired.

    Here are the 100 best quotes in sports history.


100. Vince Lombardi

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    "Winning isn't everything, but wanting to win is."

99. Tommy Lasorda

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    "The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man's determination."

98. Muhammad Ali

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    "It's just a job. Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up."

97. Bobby Knight

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    "When my time on Earth is gone, and my activities here are past, I want them to bury me upside down, and my critics can kiss my ass."

96. John Wooden

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    "Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability."

95. Jim Valvano

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    "Never give up! Failure and rejection are only the first step to succeeding."

94. Ric Flair

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    "To be the man, you have to beat the man."

93. Dennis Green

9 of 101

    "They are who we thought they were!"

92. Lou Brock

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    “Show me a guy who's afraid to look bad, and I'll show you a guy you can beat every time.”

91. Jim Courier

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    "Sportsmanship for me is when a guy walks off the court and you really can't tell whether he won or lost, when he carries himself with pride either way."

90. Shaquille O'Neal

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    "Excellence is not a singular act but a habit. You are what you do repeatedly."

89. Jack Dempsey

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    "A champion is someone who gets up when he can't."

88. Joe Namath

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    "I wanna kiss you. I couldn't care less about the team struggling."

87. Ken Griffey Jr.

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    "I can't play being mad. I go out there and have fun. It's a game, and that's how I am going to treat it."

86. Knute Rockne

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    "One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than 50 preaching it."

85. Ara Parseghian

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    “A good coach will make his players see what they can be rather than what they are.”

84. Jesse Owens

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    "In the end, it’s extra effort that separates a winner from second place. But winning takes a lot more that, too. It starts with complete command of the fundamentals. Then it takes desire, determination, discipline, and self-sacrifice. And finally, it takes a great deal of love, fairness and respect for your fellow man. Put all these together, and even if you don’t win, how can you lose?”

83. Paul "Bear" Bryant

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    “It’s not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”

82. Steve Prefontaine

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    “Most people run a race to see who is fastest. I run a race to see who has the most guts.”

81. Jim Abbott

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    "It's not the disability that defines you; it's how you deal with the challenges the disability presents you with. We have an obligation to the abilities we DO have, not the disability."

80. Mike Singletary

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

79. Mia Hamm

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    “I’ve worked too hard and too long to let anything stand in the way of my goals. I will not let my teammates down, and I will not let myself down.”

78. Tim Duncan

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    "The time when there is no one there to feel sorry for you or to cheer for you is when a player is made.”

77. Rex Ryan

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    "Let's go eat a God damn snack."

76. Matt Biondi

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    “Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement.”

75. Gail Devers

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    “Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.”

74. Dan O'Brien

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    “The Spirit of Sports: The spirit of sports gives each of us who participate an opportunity to be creative. Sports knows no sex, age, race or religion. Sports gives us all the ability to test ourselves mentally, physically and emotionally in a way no other aspect of life can. For many of us who struggle with ‘fitting in’ or our identity – sports gives us our first face of confidence. That first bit of confidence can be a gateway to many other great things!”

73. Gordie Howe

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    “I always tell kids, you have two eyes and one mouth. Keep two open and one closed. You never learn anything if you’re the one talking.”

72. Bob Cousy

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    “Sports creates a bond between contemporaries that lasts a lifetime. It also gives your life structure, discipline and a genuine, sincere, pure fulfillment that few other areas of endeavor provide.”

71. Bobby Jones

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    “Competitive sports are played mainly on a five-and-a-half inch court, the space between your ears.”

70. Arthur Ashe

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    “I have always tried to be true to myself, to pick those battles I felt were important. My ultimate responsibility is to myself. I could never be anything else.”

69. Pele

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    "Every kid around the world who plays soccer wants to be Pele. I have a great responsibility to show them not just how to be like a soccer player, but how to be like a man."

68. Jimmy Johnson

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    “Treat a person as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat him as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”

67. Doug Williams

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    “Never give up, never give in, and when the upper hand is ours, may we have the ability to handle the win with the dignity that we absorbed the loss.”

66. Lance Armstrong

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    "Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever."

65. Yogi Berra

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    “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.”

    “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

    "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

64. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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    "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."

63. Red Smith

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    "The Russians have a weapon that can wipe out two hundred eighty thousand Americans.  That puts them exactly ten years behind Howard Cosell."

62. Roger Bannister

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    "Doctors and scientists said that breaking the four-minute mile was impossible, that one would die in the attempt. Thus, when I got up from the track after collapsing at the finish line, I figured I was dead."

61. Tiger Woods

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    "My dad has always taught me these words: care and share. That's why we put on clinics. The only thing I can do is try to give back. If it works, it works."

60. Bill Shankly

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    "Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I'm very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that."

59. Martina Navratilova

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    "Whoever said, 'It's not whether you win or lose that counts,' probably lost."

58. John McEnroe

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    "I'll let the racket do the talking."

57. Babe Ruth

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    "The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime."

56. Archie Griffin

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    "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog!"

55. Greg LeMond

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    "Perhaps the single most important element in mastering the techniques and tactics of racing is experience. But once you have the fundamentals, acquiring the experience is a matter of time."

54. Joe Paterno

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    "You need to play with supreme confidence, or else you'll lose again, and then losing becomes a habit."

53. Pat Riley

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    "There are only two options regarding commitment. You're either IN or you're OUT. There is no such thing as life in-between."

52. Andre Agassi

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    "You have to have the mentality of executing your game when you don't feel like there's a lot of hope. I think the best feeling is when somebody pushes you to the limit and you dig down a little bit extra. By the same token, you also need a little luck. Sometimes they come together."

51. Ronnie Lott

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    "If you can believe it, the mind can achieve it."

50. Jimmy Demaret

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    "Golf and sex are the only things you can enjoy without being good at them!"

49. Magic Johnson

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

48. Tom Landry

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    "Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you're in control, they're in control."

47. Marv Levy

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    "Football doesn't build character, it reveals character!"

46. Herschel Walker

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    "If you train hard, you'll not only be hard, you'll be hard to beat."

45. Tony Dorsett

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    "To succeed...You need to find something to hold on to, something to motivate you, something to inspire you."

44. Steve Garvey

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    "The difference between the old ballplayer and the new ballplayer is the jersey. The old ballplayer cared about the name on the front. The new ballplayer cares about the name on the back."

43. John Madden

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    "The fewer rules a coach has, the fewer rules there are for players to break."

42. Abe Lemons

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    "One day of practice is like one day of clean living. It doesn't do you any good."

41. Sam Snead

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    "I figure practice puts your brains in your muscles."

40. Emil Zatopek

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    "An athlete cannot run with money in his pockets. He must run with hope in his heart and dreams in his head."

39. Gary Player

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    "The more I practice, the luckier I get."

38. Ted Walsh

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    "This is really a lovely horse, I once rode her mother."

37. Matt Stairs

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    “When you get that nice celebration coming into the dugout and you’re getting your ass hammered by guys—there’s no better feeling than to have that done."

36. Jerry Rice

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    "I feel like I'm the best, but you're not going to get me to say that."

35. Pat Williams

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    "We can't win at home. We can't win on the road. As general manager, I just can't figure out where else to play."

34. Doug Collins

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    “Any time Detroit scores more than 100 points and holds the other team below 100 points, they almost always win.”

33. Rocky Graziano

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    "I quit school in the sixth grade because of pneumonia. Not because I had it, but because I couldn't spell it."

32. George Best

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    "I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted!"

31. Carl Everett

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    "The Bible never says anything about dinosaurs.  You can't say there were dinosaurs when you never saw them.  Somebody actually saw Adam and Eve.  No one ever saw a Tyrannosaurus Rex."

30. Joe Theismann

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    "Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein."

29. Mike Cameron

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    “The sun has been there for 500, 600 years.”

28. Mike Tyson

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    “[He] called me a ‘rapist’ and a ‘recluse.’ I’m not a recluse.”

27. Herman Edwards

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    "You play to win the game...Hello. You play to win the game."

26. Harry Caray

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    "Booze, broads and bullshit. If you got all that, what else do you need?"

25. Dennis Rodman

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    "Chemistry is a class you take in high school or college, where you figure out two plus two is 10, or something."

24. George Brett

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    "If a tie is like kissing your sister, losing is like kissing your grandmother with her teeth out!"

23. Ted Williams

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    "Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer."

22. Wes Westrum

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    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand."

21. Allen Iverson

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    "We talkin' bout practice?"

20. Doug Plank

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    "Most football players are temperamental. That's 90 percent temper and 10 percent mental."

19. Bruce Coslet

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    "I don't know what he has. A pulled groin. A hip flexor. I don't know. A pulled something. I never pulled anything. You can't pull fat."

18. Chad Ochocinco

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    "Child please!"

17. Red Auerbach

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

16. Dale Earnhardt

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    "You win some, lose some, and wreck some."

15. Jim Mora

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    "What's that? Ah – Playoffs? Don't talk about – playoffs?! You kidding me?! Playoffs?! I just hope we can win a game! Another game!"

14. Jackie Joyner-Kersee

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    "Age is no barrier. It's a limitation you put on your mind."

13. Frank Robinson

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    Close don't count in baseball. Close only counts in horseshoes and grenades.”

12. Steffi Graf

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    "When you lose a couple of times, it makes you realize how difficult it is to win."

11. Hank Aaron

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    "It took me seventeen years to get three thousand hits in baseball. I did it in one afternoon on the golf course."

10. Emmitt Smith

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    "For me, winning isn't something that happens suddenly on the field when the whistle blows and the crowds roar. Winning is something that builds physically and mentally every day that you train and every night that you dream."

9. Jacques Plante

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    ”Goaltending is a normal job, sure. How would you like it in your job if every time you made a small mistake, a red light went on over your desk and 15,000 people stood up and yelled at you?”

8. Wilt Chamberlain

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    "Nobody roots for Goliath."

7. Bo Jackson

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    “Set your goals high, and don't stop till you get there.”

6. Gale Sayers

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    "I learned that if you want to make it bad enough, no matter how bad it is, you can make it."

5. Mike Ditka

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    "What's the difference between a 3-week-old puppy and a sportswriter? In six weeks, the puppy stops whining."

4. (The Mind of A) Greg Jennings

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    "I put the team on my back doh."

    (video language NSFW)

3. Lou Piniella

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    "Statistics are like bikinisthey show a lot but not everything."

2. Michael Jordan

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    "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."

1. Wayne Gretzky

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    "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take."

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