Names old, new and fake make NBA news this week

Alexander Tamargo

The Spurs' Jeff Pendergraph is now Jeff Ayres. Meanwhile, the Heat's Chris Andersen is still Chris Andersen, but somebody else was too, for a bit.

Introducing... Jeff Ayres

Tim Duncan was once a troubled young Army private named Armin Tamzarian

The NBA is no stranger to name changes. Lew Alcindor became Kareem Abdul-Jabaar. World B. Free was originally called "Lloyd". And Tim Duncan was once a troubled young Army private named Armin Tamzarian. Ok, that last one was made up, but joining those hallowed ranks is the Spurs' Jeff Ayres, who legally changed his surname from Pendergraph last month, projecting himself to the top of the team's alphabetical order. Adjust your programs accordingly.

The name change comes as Ayres looks to rebuild his relationship with his biological father, James Ayers. He also didn't want his daughter to carry on a name that now held little meaning for him.

The Spurs forward, who was actually born Jeff Orcutt (his mother's maiden name), had taken the name Pendergraph from his stepfather, with whom he lost touch in his teens. According to the San Antonio Express-News story which broke yesterday, he kept the name Pendergraph through high school and college largely for practical reasons.

..."that's how everybody knew me, as Pendergraph," Ayres said.

"In high school and recruiting, that's how everybody knew me, as Pendergraph," Ayres said. "I didn't want to change it, because then people wouldn't know who I was. It stuck."

Ayres will have to say goodbye to the nicknames that his former surname got him: "Pendy", "Pendersmash", and "Pender Pending Rodriguez".

Chris Andersen impersonated, extorted, investigated, and now cleared

The season's still nearly a month and a half away and already the NBA might have its oddest story of the year.

In a tale that spans the wintery landscapes of the Great White North, the tips of the Colorado Rockies, and the tanning beds of South Beach, an extensive legal investigation involving Heat forward Chris Andersen can finally be put to rest.

...in a case that his lawyer, Mark Bryant, called "Manti Te'o on steroids".

Andersen, whose Denver home was searched and property was seized last year in an investigation involving child pornography, has now been acquitted of any related charges, in a case that his lawyer, Mark Bryant, called "Manti Te'o on steroids".

The search back in 2012 was apparently for an IP address, one that actually belonged to a 29-year-old woman in Canada. Shelly Lynn Cartier of Manitoba had allegedly impersonated the NBA player online, while simultaneously impersonating other people in speaking to the real Chris Andersen. Posing as Andersen, Cartier "sought gifts and relationships", as well as made threats to people online.

Of course, Sandra Bullock warned all of us about this almost 20 years ago:

The case that led to his home being searched involved a California woman who, through contact by Cartier, developed a relationship with the real Chris Andersen. Their correspondence led to a real-life meeting between the two in Colorado which, along with Andersen's attorney asserting it was never sexual, only occurred once the young woman was already of legal age.

It's believed soon after that Cartier, posing as the woman, began to make financial demands from the Heat forward, while posing as Andersen and issuing threats to the California woman.

Andersen is reportedly just one of Cartier's many victims. Her charges include possession of and transmitting child pornography, impersonation, extortion, and making threats.

If the relief of no longer being under federal investigation for some pretty serious charges isn't enough for the Birdman, maybe these words from the film Catfish will provide some closure:

They used to tank cod from Alaska all the way to China. They'd keep them in vats in the ship. By the time the codfish reached China, the flesh was mush and tasteless. So this guy came up with the idea that if you put these cods in these big vats, put some catfish in with them and the catfish will keep the cod agile. And there are those people who are catfish in life. And they keep you on your toes. They keep you guessing, they keep you thinking, they keep you fresh. And I thank god for the catfish because we would be droll, boring and dull if we didn't have somebody nipping at our fin.

Or maybe they won't.

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