A lot can change for an NBA player in the offseason. The place they live. The team they play for. How much money they make. Their name.
According to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express News, Pendergraph will start the season with a new name on the front and back of his jersey this season:
Last month, Pendergraph walked into a courthouse in downtown Phoenix, his wife Raneem and newborn daughter Naomi in tow.
He walked out with a new name — Jeff Ayres.
Ayres is family name of his biological father, James. It replaces the surname of a stepfather who hasn't been in the picture since the player formerly known Jeff Pendergraph was in high school.
Jeff Ayres, huh? If you expected something different, you're not alone. Perhaps we've been spoiled by some pretty spectacular name changes throughout the history of the league. Guys like World B. Free, Bison Dele and Metta World Peace set the bar pretty high.
To his credit, Ayres briefly flirted with changing his last name to something that would have sold a few more jerseys, at the very least:
They (Ayres and his wife) joked about legally dubbing themselves “Mr. and Mrs. Awesome.”
“Then I thought, I bet my dad would love it if I took his name,” Ayres said.
The forward formerly known as Pendergraph should endear himself to fans pretty quickly, even though he missed the chance to be Jeff Awesome.
The fourth year pro was a standout at Arizona State, and in very limited minutes with the Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers, Pendergraph showed a desire to mix it up inside and throw his body around. Per 36 minutes a night on his career, Pendergraph has averaged a healthy 11.6 points and 9.6 rebounds.
It's not going out on a limb to say that the Spurs, once again, might have gotten a steal where no one else was looking. Jeff Pendergraph wasn't a name most casual fans knew, but maybe Jeff Ayres will be.