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Former Sun Devil Jeff Ayres eyes first NBA title

Jeff Ayres (formerly Pendergraph) will try to become the fifth Arizona State player to win an NBA title when the finals begin Thursday night in San Antonio.

Sun Devils have appeared in 14 NBA Finals, winning seven. Byron Scott won three titles with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s. Mark Landsberger also won two with the Lakers, earning rings in 1980 and 1982. Lionel Hollins won with Portland in 1977 and, most recently, Eddie House won a title with the Boston Celtics in 2008.

ASU’s history in the NBA Finals stretches back to 1968 when Dennis Hamilton and the Lakers faced off and lost to a legendary Boston Celtics team that featured Bill Russell and John Havlicek. The most recent Sun Devil to appear in an NBA finals was James Harden, who played for the Oklahoma City Thunder when they lost to the Miami Heat in 2012.

While Ayres has not played a significant role for the Spurs this season, he left Tempe as one of the best players in ASU history. He led the Sun Devils to 25 wins for just the third time in program history during the 2008-09 season and earned first team All-Pac-10 honors that year. In his four years at ASU, he scored 1,588 points, which is good for sixth on the Sun Devils’ all-time list. His 126 games played and 120 starts for the maroon and gold are both school records.