Today is Cedric Ceballos’ birthday, so I thought I would just post a few good random memories and vids in honor of the first Lakers All-Star to wear number 23 and last player not named Kobe or Shaq to put up 50 for the Lakers. That 50-point game happened way back in 1994 when Ceballos made 21-of-31 shots in a 108-95 win over JR Rider’s Wolves.
You probably won’t believe me when I say for the majority of the 90s, Cedric Ceballos was actually one of my five favorite players — joining Rider, Chris Webber, Penny Hardaway and Shaq. I have a massive Ceballos sports card collection that’s probably only worth about 10 bucks (to another Ced fan) now but I wouldn’t sell it for 100.
Why did I like him so much?
It’s definitely not because of his blindfold-winning dunk at the NBA dunk contest. We all know he could see. I just liked his instant O game, which didn’t require any plays to be ran for him. I also thought the post-Showtime Lakers and pre-Kobe and Shaq Lakers were a lot of fun to watch and a big reason for that was Ceballos (and Nick Van Exel…and Eddie Jones…sometimes Vlade).
So about a decade ago, I dug up and capped a bunch of my old VHS tapes and made a video honoring the 95 Lakers, featuring his song “Flow On” off the Basketball’s Best Kept Secret album – you know the horrible compilation album with Jason Kidd saying the classic line, “I should of seen it coming…like Rocky’s momma.”
HAZING KOBE BRYANT
I’m sure most people coming here probably don’t care to watch Laker highlights that were pre Kobe Bryant, so for you all, here’s an amusing story by Cedric about hazing a rookie Kobe Byrant.
“We’d make him chase balls into the stands of the huge arenas, or take bags off the plane in the freezing cold. Or we’d say, ‘I need coffee from Starbucks and donuts from Krispy Kreme’ — and it’d be 2 am in a town we just arrived in.”
Ced also said it was Kobe’s closest teammate, Eddie Jones, that was behind a lot of it. One of the things that EJ made Kobe do was bring him a Gatorade before every game. But the hazing didn’t stop with the current Laker roster.
“Even the veterans who are retired … James Worthy, Kareem, Wilt Chamberlain … all those guys came down to give him a little bit of rookie hazing, knowing that he was going to be the great player he is.”
THE NEW 23: LEBRON JAMES
As everyone in the sports world knows, LeBron James will be wearing #23 for the Lakers. What you might not know is LeBron actually called Ceballos to ask him if he was cool about it. It’s hard not to like the King when he does stuff like that. And it’s going to be cool to once again see someone wearing a purple and gold jersey with 23 on it, putting up buckets the way Ceballos used to.