SPARTANBURG, S.C. – NBA legend Jerry West joked that while Cam Newton may not have what it takes to play power forward in the NBA, the Panthers quarterback certainly has the makeup to lead Carolina to a Super Bowl title.
“It’s up to him at his period in life to grow and make everyone around him better,” West said of Newton. “I think he’s going to be the kind of player everyone anticipates he will be and get them to highest level. He has a lot of obstacles ahead of him but I think he’s the guy to do it.”
West knows a thing or two about talent evaluation, albeit in a different sport.
He won six NBA championships as general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers. He currently serves as an adviser for the Golden State Warriors.
On Monday, he visited training camp at Wofford College as a guest of Panthers owner Jerry Richardson.
West and Richardson originally met in the 1980s in Los Angeles and have become close friends in recent years. West said Richardson recently expressed his frustration to him over not being able to bring a Super Bowl championship to Carolina.
“He’s been very successful in his life and I’ve told him even though you’ve been in this business a long time one of the most difficult things you can do is win, regardless of what sport,” West said. But “he’s worked his fanny off to bring the best players and the coaches here.”
West said he has tremendous respect for the 77-year-old Richardson and how he runs his organization.
“He’s a great guy and a tremendous owner,” West said of Richardson. “The way he cares about players is really special. I think at the end of the day the one thing players of all sports remember is how they were treated by management and ownership, and he’s just an incredible gentleman.”