'He's obviously a legend': Cleveland Browns players learn from NBA great Jerry West

LOS ANGELES — Greg Newsome II, Browns cornerback, is 23. Jerry West, basketball legend, is 85.

Yet, in the course of one conversation by West to Newsome and his Browns teammates, there was a commonality found between them.

"He said he hates losing," Newsome said after Wednesday's practice at UCLA. "I think he said he's 85 years old. He said he still hates losing. So that's definitely my takeaway."

The Browns are spending the week leading up to Sunday's game at the Los Angeles Rams in Southern California. They're staying in Beverly Hills and practicing at UCLA.

And hearing from legends such as West, one of the iconic figures in NBA lore. The architect of the "Showtime" Lakers as an executive and Basketball Hall of Famer as both a player and an executive, West may have been decades removed from his playing days by the time the Browns players were even born.

Jerry West is introduced as part of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team at halftime of the 2022 NBA All-Star Game, Feb. 20, 2022, in Cleveland.
Jerry West is introduced as part of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team at halftime of the 2022 NBA All-Star Game, Feb. 20, 2022, in Cleveland.

However, that didn't mean the man and his message didn't resonate loudly to his audience. On Wednesday, that included Browns players and coaches, whom he addressed before their practice at UCLA.

"I think he’s obviously a legend at that," tight end David Njoku said. "He speaks his mind. I respect that. He’s a very authentic person. Just by him talking to us for a little 10 minutes."

West acknowledged to the Browns players he has been a fan of the team. He also acknowledged the stress he had for Sunday's game with the Rams.

However, West also tried to strike a positive message within his own story about hatting to lose.

"I admire you guys so much," West told the team, which the team shared on social media. "I care about the Cleveland Browns. Something good is going to happen to you guys with the effort and your coaches who have gotten involved to lead you. You have to believe in yourself and the guy right beside you and thank God with playing with somebody who really cares as much as you. But I'm anxious to watch the game on Sunday. Go get a win, please. Thank you so much.

Those 10 minutes or so were illuminating for the Browns players. West may have been a well-known name among them, and even some of his accolades.

What stuck out the most was the drive he had, both as a player and an executive. That drive was something the players themselves could relate to from him.

"I loved it," Newsome said. "Yeah, for sure. I mean, a guy who, like they said, he's won an MVP and the team lost the thing, and just to be how great he is and how much he says he just hates losing that much, he hates losing more than he loves winning. So a guy like that, you definitely learned a lot from."

All-Pro left guard Joel Bitonio grew up a huge Lakers fan in Long Beach, Calif. For the longest-tenured Browns player, it was, in his words, "cool" to hear from the man who drafted Kobe Bryant, one of his favorite NBA players as a child.

There was also gained a bit of reciprocal appreciation from West toward those to whom he was speaking.

"He was very impressed with football players," Bitonio said. "He's like, you guys are tough. You guys play through injuries. You guys do a lot of that stuff. So, he had a lot of respect for that. But the overall picture was just being a good teammate, playing for your guys, executing, having a bigger purpose out there."

Myles Garrett, Amari Cooper, Denzel Ward all working 'day to day'

The three biggest non-quarterback injuries for the Browns remain All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett, Pro Bowl receiver Amari Cooper and Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward. All three were among the several Browns who missed practice Wednesday, although only Garrett and Ward were listed on the pre-practice injury report.

Garrett was working off to the side during the portion of practice open to the media. He sustained a shoulder injury in last Sunday's loss to the Denver Broncos, although there was no structural damage found in the shoulder, according to coach Kevin Stefanski.

Stefanski said he remains confident in Garrett's availability for Sunday's game.

"I do," Stefanski said. "He's not going to practice today, but see how he goes through this week."

It was similar for Cooper, who left the game in Denver with a rib injury. Ward continues to work back from a shoulder injury suffered in Week 11 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He missed the Broncos game because of the injury.

Also not practicing with injuries were receiver Marquise Goodwin (concussion), running back Kareem Hunt (groin), right guard Wyatt Teller (calf) and safety Juan Thornhill (calf).

Chris Easterling can be reached at Read more about the Browns at Follow him on Twitter at @ceasterlingABJ

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Jerry West message to Browns players: 'He still hates losing'