Quotes

“I try to see each new season as a new challenge because I have a new team to work with, new opponents to encounter, and often new ideas and theories to try.”

“Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication.”

“Communication does not always occur naturally, even among a tight-knit group of individuals. Communication must be taught and practiced in order to bring everyone together as one.”

“Making shots counts, but not as much as the people who make them.”

“A common mistake among those who work in sport is spending a disproportional amount of time on “x’s and o’s” as compared to time spent learning about people.”

“I define passion as extreme emotion.”

“When you are passionate, you always have your destination in sight and you are not distracted by obstacles. Because you love what you are pursuing, things like rejection and setbacks will not hinder you in your pursuit. You believe that nothing can stop you!”

“I don’t look at myself as a basketball coach. I look at myself as a leader who happens to coach basketball.”

“Your heart has to be in whatever you lead. It became apparent that this decision was somewhat easier to make because you have to follow your heart and lead with it and Duke has always taken up my whole heart… The allure of coaching in college has no price. It’s one of those priceless things. I’ve never made a decision based on what will get me the most money. It was what was going to give me the most happiness and I’ve been really happy and fulfilled at Duke.”

“When my relationship with Duke was put up against my relationship with a storied franchise, I found myself even more committed to what Duke has.”

“Turning down the Lakers was tough, but it is always good to renew your vows to the loves of your life.”

“We’re a part of this university in many respects. You can’t put a price tag on that. This has been the perfect place to coach and teach and learn… No matter how appealing another option was, to lead my Duke team with all my heart could only happen at this place.”

“People have to be given the freedom to show the heart they possess. I think it’s a leader’s responsibility to provide that type of freedom. And I believe it can be done through relationships and family. Because if a team is a real family, its members want to show you their hearts.”

“Confrontation simply means meeting the truth head-on.”

“Believe that the loose ball that you are chasing has your name on it.”

“During critical periods, a leader is not allowed to feel sorry for himself, to be down, to be angry, or to be weak. Leaders must beat back these emotions.”

“It takes courage not only to make decisions, but to live with those decisions afterward.”

“When you cleanse yourself of a big victory, you may open yourself up to the opportunity for an even bigger victory.”

“Leaders have to give time for relationships. But more demands will be placed on their time as they become more successful. So if a person’s success is based on developing relationships, then they have to continually find new ways of getting it done.”

“You have to work hard at staying in contact with your friends so that the relationships will continue and live on… Friendships, along with love, make life worth living.”

“During the season, your team should be led with exuberance and excitement. You should live the journey. You should live it right. You should live it together. You should live it shared. You should try to make one another better. You should get on one another if somebody’s not doing their part. You should hug one another when they are. You should be disappointed in a loss and exhilarated in a win. It’s all about the journey.”

“In our program, the truth is the basis of all that we do. There is nothing more important than the truth because there’s nothing more powerful than the truth. Consequently, on our team, we always tell one another the truth. We must be honest with one another. There is no other way.”

“Throughout the season, I look into my players’ eyes to gauge feelings, confidence levels, and to establish instant trust.”

“Every leader needs to remember that a healthy respect for authority takes time to develop. It’s like building trust. You don’t instantly have trust, it has to be earned.”

“In leadership, there are no words more important than trust. In any organization, trust must be developed among every member of the team if success is going to be achieved.”

“My love for Duke and this building and the people in it – I can’t love it more. And so to have my name on the court is great… and I’ll try to continue to honor that court in the way we have.”

“Too many rules get in the way of leadership. They just put you in a box . . . . People set rules to keep from making decisions.”

“The truth is that many people set rules to keep from making decisions. Not me. I don’t want to be a manager or a dictator. I want to be a leader—and leadership is ongoing, adjustable, flexible, and dynamic. As such, leaders have to maintain a certain amount of discretion.”

“Mutual commitment helps overcome the fear of failure—especially when people are part of a team sharing and achieving goals. It also sets the stage for open dialogue and honest conversation.”

“When you first assemble a group, it’s not a team right off the bat. It’s only a collection of individuals.”

“Visualize a wagon wheel as a complete team. A leader might be the hub of the wheel at the center. Now suppose the spokes are the connecting relationships the leader is building with people on the outer rim of the wheel. If the hub is removed, then the entire wheel collapses. In a situation like that, if a team loses the leader, the entire team collapses.”

“When a leader takes responsibility for his own actions and mistakes, he not only sets a good example, he shows a healthy respect for people on his team.”

“Discipline is doing what you are supposed to do in the best possible manner at the time you are supposed to do it.”

“Goals should be realistic, attainable, and shared among all members of the team.”

“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.”

“You develop a team to achieve what one person cannot accomplish alone. All of us alone are weaker, by far, than if all of us are together.”

“Confidence shared is better than confidence only in yourself.”

“Two are better than one if two act as one.”

“A leader may be the most knowledgeable person in the world, but if the players on his team cannot translate that knowledge into action, it means nothing.”

“Erect no artificial walls that might limit potential, stifle creativity, or shackle innovation.”

“Leaders should be reliable without being predictable. They should be consistent without being anticipated.”

“A leader has to be positive about all things that happen to his team. Look at nothing in the past as failure.”

“Courage and confidence are what decision making is all about.”

“Leaders show respect for people by giving them time.”

“I believe God gave us crises for some reason—and it certainly wasn’t for us to say that everything about them is bad. A crisis can be a momentous time for a team to grow—if a leader handles it properly.”

“Encourage members of your team to take the initiative and act on their own.”

“People want to be on a team. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to be in a situation where they feel that they are doing something for the greater good.”

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Adaptability

You have to adapt what you do based on who you are. In teaching, you must remember that no group or individual is the same as who you taught the day before, the year before, or the decade before. Your plan has to suit who you and your team are right now.

- Coach K
Commitment

When you are winning, your commitment is never challenged. But loyalty and dedication during difficult times can be tough. When commitment doesn’t waver, that’s when you have the greatest chance of winning. You can never give up.

- Coach K
Care

When you care about someone or something, you show genuine concern for that person or thing, in good times or bad. When you care about one another and about your purpose, you are compelled to put your feelings into action. Care creates an atmosphere that breeds success and gives you the confidence to try again.

- Coach K
Challenges

No matter how successful you believe yourself to be, you can never feel as if you’ve reached the absolute pinnacle. There are always new and wonderful challenges out there, and part of maintaining success is knowing when you need to accept them.

- Coach K
Courage

You can possess countless good qualities as an individual, but if you don”t have the courage to proceed, you may never see those qualities come into fruition. It takes courage to put what you believe to be best of you on the line, to test it, and to see how far it takes you. Courage means daring to do what you imagine.

- Coach K
Balance

Take care not to allow one aspect of your life to so consume you that you neglect the others. Balance can put things in perspective, can bring you joy even when you are down, and can allow you to be at your best in all aspects of your life.

- Coach K
Adversity

Adversity can teach you more about yourself than any success, and overcoming an obstacle can sometimes feel even better than achieving an easy victory. Through adversity, you can discover things about your endurance, your ability to turn a negative into a positive, and your personal strength of heart.

- Coach K
Belief

Belief can mean the difference between a fear of failure and the courage to try. On a team or in a family, belief makes each individual stronger and also fortifies the group as a whole. The basis of belief is in individual relationships.

- Coach K
Communication

Effective teamwork begins and ends with communication. Communication does not always occur naturally, and must be taught and practiced in order to bring everyone together as one. The most crucial element of communicating is telling the truth.

- Coach K
Collective Responsibility

We win and we lose together. Handling the responsibility for wins and losses together removes the burden from one individual’s shoulders and distributes it among each member of the team. That atmosphere is conducive to high-level performance and places you and your team in the position to be bold and unafraid, and if you should lose, you are not alone.

- Coach K
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