Sports are mainly played on a field (or are they for Bobby Jones) or a court, and are about as entertaining as anything in our society today, but some of the most memorable moments in sports are not the actions of the athletes or coaches between the sidelines, but instead with a microphone in front of their mouth.
Sport quotes are as memorable as the athletes, coaches, announcers, and even the Hollywood actors that say them, so here is a list of the top 25 sports quotes of all time. Some will make you laugh, some may make you cry, and some may even motivate you to want to throw on the sweats and take a run through the streets of Philadelphia like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky!
The criteria: In order to get on this list, the quote has to be original, motivating, hilarious, or representative of a game, event, or influential period in sports. These quotes are in an order based on my opinion of best quotes based on this criteria so this disclaimer exists. Any athlete that is deemed to have more than one memorable quote has the other quote(s) underneath in the description.
25. Jack Buck 1985 NLCS
“Go Crazy Folks!”
This quote has been used multiple times in many occasions, but the first was the late, great Jack Buck making the call in the 1985 NLCS when Ozzie “The Wizard of Oz” hit a walk-off Homerun to win the game, and the series. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHEtH5LbkBM
#24. John Daly
“I can tell you one thing. I’ve done this my way. I don’t have anybody to blame for this win but me, and I love it.”
John Daly is the bad boy of the golfing world. He was quoted as crediting his golf swing to Jack Nicklaus’ cartoons in Golf Digest, as well as “If I’m going to hang myself, … I’ll put a rope around my neck. I just don’t get into them. I think they’re boring … You can’t get a coat and tie on this fat boy.” John Daly drinks more Diet Cokes in a day than most drink in a year, and when he isn’t indulging in the sugary beverage he has been known to stop into a local drinking establishment. Daly is a character and remains one of the most entertaining people on the PGA tour.
#23. Tiger Woods
“For many my behavior has been a major disappointment, my behavior has caused considerable worry to my business partners, and everyone involved in my business, but most importantly to the young people we influence, I apologize.”
This quote came after one of the most prominent controversies in the history of golf and sports in general. Tiger Woods was consistently though of to be one of the most outstanding members of the sporting community, but his reputation was shattered after the sex scandals that plagued the golfer’s life in 2009 and 2010.
“Don’t force your kids into sports. I never was. To this day, my dad has never asked me to go play golf. I ask him. It’s the child’s desire to play that matters, not the parent’s desire to have the child play. Fun. Keep it fun.”
Although Tiger went through a dark time, he still has many memorable quotes such as the latter of these two. He was always willing to lend a helping hand to the community and kids. Tiger is a legend and he will always be remembered as such.
#22. John Wooden
“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you ever have time to do it over?”
John Wooden is one of the most legendary coaches in the history of sports, period. Wooden was most notable for his ability to translate his messages about basketball at UCLA to real life. He coached greats such as Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Wooden was a legend and was the first inductee to the college basketball hall of fame as a player and also a coach.
#21. Frank Robinson
“Close don’t count in baseball. Close only counts in horseshoes and grenades.”
Robinson was the first African American manager in Major League Baseball and had an incredible outlook on the game. Robinson was quoted in “The Sporting News” in 1975 as saying, “It’s nice to come into a town and be referred to as the manager of the Cleveland Indians instead of as the first black manager.” Robinson constantly held an immense respect for the game of baseball and traditions that had been instilled in the game by greats like Jackie Robinson.
#20. Jack Dempsey
“A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t”
Dempsey held the World HeavyWeight Boxing title from 1919-1926 and was known for his incredible style of never giving up throughout the entire fight. He was known as the “Manassa Mauler” and was as dominant in a sport where being dominant for an extended period of time is difficult
#19. Football Movie Quotes: Rudy, Remember The Titans, and Any Given Sunday
Rudy You’re 5 foot nothin’ 100 and nothin’, and you have nearly a speck of athletic ability. And you hung in there with the best college football team in the land for two years. And you’re gonna walk outta here with a degree from the University of Notre Dame. In this life, you don’t have to prove nothin’ to nobody but yourself.”
Rudy is one of the greatest underdog, David vs. Goliath stories ever told in sports and this, along with many other great quotes are very inspiring
Remember The Titans This is where they fought the battle of Gettysburg. Fifty thousand men died right here on this field, fighting the same fight that we are still fighting among ourselves today. This green field right here, painted red, bubblin’ with the blood of young boys. Smoke and hot lead pouring right through their bodies. Listen to their souls, men. I killed my brother with malice in my heart. Hatred destroyed my family. You listen, and you take a lesson from the dead. If we don’t come together right now on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed, just like they were. I don’t care if you like each other or not, but you will respect each other. And maybe… I don’t know, maybe we’ll learn to play this game like men”
Remember The Titans came out in 2000, starring Denzel Washington in one of his more prominent, powerful roles. The film demonstrates how segregation in the deep south during the civil rights movement affected everyone. The movie uses sports to paint a vivid picture of how overcoming obstacles and adversity is how champions are made.
Any Given Sunday
The reason that this clip from this film is on here is simple. Every time the clip comes on, it makes me envision what it is like to be in the locker room with some of the greats. The speech is powerful and encompasses everything that most coaches try to establish in their speeches.
#18. Shaquille O’Neal (Shaq, Shaq Diesel, Shaq Daddy, The Big Aristotle)
When asked by a reporter if he (Shaq) visited the Parthenon while he was in Greece: “I can’t really remember the names of all the clubs we went to.”
Shaq has always been a personality to be reckoned with in the NBA and on the mic (also releasing 4 rap albums, and starring in Hollywood Blockbusters like “Kazaam” (okay, maybe not a blockbuster), but he is most known for his uncanny way with words and his personality.
#17. Jim Mora
“What’s that? Ah- Playoffs? Don’t talk about- Playoffs?! You kidding me?! Playoffs? I just hope we can win a game! Another Game!”
Jim Mora was the man behind the scenes of turning around the franchises of the Saints and the Colts. More is also notorious for his post-game tirades, such as the “Playoffs” rant highlighted here, as well as the infamous “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda” rant and the “Diddly Poo” use as well. Mora was always willing to wear his heart on his shoulder and let the media know exactly what he was thinking.
#16. Mike Tyson
“I want to rip out his heart and feed it to him [Lennox Lewis]. I want to kill people. I want to rip their stomachs out and eat their children.”
Mike Tyson has consistently been a catalyst for hilarious media coverage and yet, and intriguing athlete with a great story behind him. This is the same guy that bit off an ear, was convicted of rape and sent to prison in which he remarked, “When I was in prison, I was wrapped up in all those deep books. That Tolstoy crap – people shouldn’t read that stuff.” Tyson was always good for a quality quote when he got out of the ring and in front of a microphone
Other Quote(s): “I just want to conquer people and their souls.”
“Fear is your best friend or your worst enemy. It’s like fire. If you can control it, it can cook for you; it can heat your house. If you can’t control it, it will burn everything around you and destroy you. If you can control your fear, it makes you more alert, like a deer coming across the lawn.”
#15. Jacques Plante
”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?”
Plante was one of the most prominent goalies in hockey, playing for the Montreal Canadiens, in a stretch of 10 years, from 1953-1963, the Canadiens won 6 Stanlet Cups, 5 consecutive. Plante was also the first goaltender to wear a full face-mask regularly, trying out many different prototypes in his playing career from 1947-1975
#14. Field of Dreams
“If you build it, he will come.”
The Field of Dreams is one of the greatest sports movies in the history of Hollywood and this is the most memorable quote from the film.
#13. Joe Starkey, November 20, 1982, “The Play” where The California Golden Bears returned a last second kick-off with 5 lateral passes to beat the Stanford Cardinal. The call from the game is one of the most famous of all time.
“Oh, the band is on the field! He’s gonna go into the end zone! He’s gone into the end zone! … The most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heart-rending, exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football!”
#12. Steve Prefontaine and Roger Bannister (both runners, so I grouped them together)
“Most people run a race to see who is fastest. I run a race to see who has the most guts.” -Pre
“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.”
Prefontaine once held all 7 long-distance running records from 2,000-10,000 meters. He was killed in a car accident at the age of 24,, but his legacy was solidified by his memorable quotes and ability to use his guts to win races.
Bannister was the first man to ever break the 4 minute mile barrier, which he did in 1954. Bannister went on to have a very prestigious career in academia. He became a neurologist, and Master of Pembroke College in Oxford, where he retired from in 2001.
These quotes showcase two of the most important aspects in sports, one being the ability to go the extra mile and push beyond the threshold of comfort and the other showing how that can pay off, using a little humor.
#11. Yogi Berra
“How can you hit and think at the same time”
Yogi Berra is probably the most quotable athlete of all time because of the amount of hilarious quotes that he has. Many remember Yogi as being the quirky, quotable, loveable baseball player, but the guy did have a pretty decent Hall-of-Fame career in the Major Leagues as well.
Other Quote(s):”He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.”
“I always thought that record would stand until it was broken.”
“I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did.”
“You should always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise, they won’t come to yours.”
#10. Al Michaels, February 22, 1980, “The Miracle on Ice”
“Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles?… Yes!” Miracle on Ice
The United States Hockey Team
#9. Bobby Jones
“Competitive sports are played mainly on a five-and-a-half inch court, the space between your ears”
Bobby Jones was one of the most dominant golfers in the history of the game. He remains, to this day, the only player to ever complete the Grand Slam, doing so in 1930. One of the most interesting stories about Jones is that a few months before accomplishing the feat, he made a bet with some business men at 50-1 odds that he would accomplish the feat. Rumor is that he collected over $60,000, in 1930, that would equal just over $808,000 today.
#8. Jim Valvano
“Never Give up! Failure and rejection are only the first step to succeeding!”
Jimmy V had one of the most influential speeches at the 1993 ESPY awards. Valvano delivered the moving speech just 8 weeks before he passed away after battling bone cancer. The speech is one of the most passionate, motivating speeches in the history of college basketball and sports in general. If you have never seen it, take the time to watch it. It will move you.
#7. Bob Knight
“When my time on earth is gone, and my activities here are past, I want them to bury be upside down, and my critics can kiss my ass”
Bob Knight was known for his brash tactics as a head coach at The University of Indiana from 1971 to 2000 when he was fired for refusing to step down after the University was forced to employ a “zero
tolerance” policy on the coach. Knight continued his career at Texas Tech until 2008 when he retired to go into broadcasting. Knight held the title for most wins ever by a collegiate head coach with 902 total wins, but that record was broken by Knight’s former player, Mike Krzyzewski in 2011. He was always one to speak his mind and tell what was what, and occasionally that got Coach Knight into trouble.
#6. Archie Griffin
“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog!”
One of the most prominent things in sports is rooting for the underdog and seeing the underdog come through in David vs. Goliath fashion. Archie Griffin was the only College Football player to play in 4 Rose Bowls when he was at Ohio State, and Griffin also sports the title of only player to ever win multiple Heisman Trophies.
Counter-quote: Wilt Chamberlain: “Nobody roots for Goliath”
#5. Vince Lombardi
“It’s easy to have faith in yourself and have discipline when you’re a winner, when you’re number one. What you got to have is faith and discipline when you’re not a winner.”
The NFL’s Super Bowl Championship Trophy is called the Lombardi Trophy, names after one of the greatest coaches of all time in the league. Lombardi won 3 consecutive Champions in the 60’s with the Green Bay Packers and his legend has lived on through his motivational words
Other Quote(s): “Confidence is contagious, so is lack of confidence”
“Dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you’re willing to pay the price.”
#4. Muhammad Ali
“I’m so fast that last night I turned off the light switch in my bedroom and was in bed bed before the room was dark.”
Muhammad Ali is “The Champ” and has been in the limelight of one of the most media, money, promotional, motivated sports and he was always known to come up with a witty line here and there about how good he was. Below is a list of a few more of those quotes (Having so many from all aspects of the sport are what put Ali this high on the list.)
“Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
“It’s just a job. Grass Grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand. I beat people up.”
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, your hands can’t hit what your eyes can’t see”
#3. Jesse Owens
“In the end, it’s extra effort that seperates a winner from second place. But winning takes a lot more than 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, an even if you don’t win, how can you lose?”
Jesse Owens won 4 Gold medals in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany for his performances in the 100m & 200m dash, Long Jump, and for his contribution to the 4x100m relay team. This quote is so high on the list because it is the definition of a sports quote that translates to real life and gives you chills as you realize how powerful Owens’ words are.
Other quote(s): “Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust.”
#2. Wayne Gretzky
“You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”
Gretzky had the nickname, “The Great One” and he had that nickname for good reason. The hockey player scored the most points in NHL history in his career, and it’s quotes like these that prove the mentality of a true Great athlete
#1. Michael Jordan
“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.”
MJ is arguabaly the greatest athlete in any sport of all time and is regarded by the majority of fans as the greatest NBA basketball player in the history of the game. This quote is timeless to say the least for its significance in high school and college locker rooms and gyms all across the country
Bill Shankly: “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.”
John Madden “The fewer rules a coach has, the fewer rules there are for players to break.”
“A League of Their Own:” “There’s no crying in baseball
Wheldon Drew: “We have a great bunch of outside shooters. Unfortunately, all our games are played indoors.”
Vin Scully: “So the winning run is at second base, with two outs, three and two to Mookie Wilson. Little roller up along first; Behind the bag! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!”
Ric Flair: “To be the man, you have to beat the man!”