Cedric Ceballos had a long and distinguished career, during which he achieved singular achievements and helped each of his teams succeed to the best of their ability.
Ceballos attended Ventura Community College before he transferred over to California State University, Fullerton.
In his first year at Cal State, he immediately became a starter on the team. He started in all 29 games for the season. As the team’s starting small forward, he put up impressive numbers his first year there. He averaged 21.2 points per game (PPG), 8.8 rebounds per game (RPG), 1.5 assists per game (APG), and 1.6 steals per game (SPG). They finished fourth in the Big West Conference, with a 10-8 record, and missed out on the NCAA tournament. They finished the overall season 16-13.
Ceballos followed up a great first year, with an even better second year. In his second season at Cal State, he started in 28 out of the 29 games. He improved significantly in different parts of his game as he averaged 23.1 PPG, 12.5 RPG, 1.7 APG, and 1.6 SPG. The team finished 7th in the Big West Conference, with a 6-12 record, and missed out on the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year. Their overall season ended with a 13-16 record. Ceballos then declared for the 1990 NBA Draft.
Ceballos’ Early Years in the NBA
Ceballos was selected 48th overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 1990 NBA Draft. He spent his first four seasons as part of the Suns. Ceballos started his NBA career as a bench player, but by his third year, he slowly became a starting small forward. The highlight of his career, came in his second season when he won the 1992 NBA Slam Dunk Contest, when he successfully performed a dunk blindfolded.
The following season he led the league in field goal percentage, with 57.6% of his shots made. The Suns made the playoffs in all four of the years that he was on the team. Ceballos played a big part in the team’s success during their playoff runs, especially during the 1993 NBA playoffs, where they made the finals but lost in six games to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
During the 1994 offseason, Ceballos was traded from the Phoenix Suns to the Los Angeles Lakers. He spent two and a half years with the Lakers. On December 20, 1994, he scored a career-high 50 points, in a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Later on, in the season, he was named an All-Star for the first and only time in his career. Ceballos led the team in scoring in the two full seasons he was there, with 21.7 and 21.2 PPG respectively.
The Lakers also made the playoffs both years with Ceballos leading the helm, but the furthest they made it was the Western Conference Semifinals, in his first year there. Ceballos put up impressive numbers in his time with the Lakers, he averaged 20.9 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.7 APG, and 1.1 SPG in two and a half years there.
On January 10, 1997, halfway through the NBA season, Ceballos was traded back to the Suns. For the fifth time as a Sun, he helped the team reach the playoffs. The Suns, however, didn’t make it far into the playoffs this time around, as they were eliminated in the first round by the Seattle Supersonics in five games. A year after he reunited with his old team, he was traded again. During his Suns tenures, he averaged a combined 11.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.0 APG, and 0.6 SPG.
The Dallas Mavericks Years
On February 18, 1998, the Suns again traded away Ceballos, this time to the Dallas Mavericks. He didn’t miss a step when he joined the Mavericks. In his first half-season with the team, he started in nine out of the 12 games played. He averaged an impressive 16.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.1 APG, and 0.9 SPG in those 12 games. Unfortunately, for Ceballos this season would be the end of his playoff appearance streak, he made the playoffs every year up to this point in his NBA career. The Mavericks finished the 1997-98 season, with a 20-62 and missed out on the playoffs.
The following season, was the shortened 1998-99 season, and for Ceballos it was an even shorter season due to a season-ending injury. In a game against the Denver Nuggets, he suffered two broken wrists, which put an end to his season. He started in five out of the 13 games he was involved in. He averaged 12.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 0.9 APG, and 0.5 SPG in his shortened season. Again, the Mavericks failed to make the playoffs as they finished 19-31.
The following season, Ceballos returned to being a reliable bench piece, like he was at the beginning of his NBA career. He started in 25 out of the 69 games he was part of. He averaged 16.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.3 APG, and 0.8 SPG for the season. The Mavericks went 40-42 and just missed out on the playoffs.
In Ceballos’ tenure with the Mavericks, he averaged 16.1 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.4 APG, and 0.8 SPG. He slowly shifted from a reliable starter to a reliable bench player. Injuries hampered his time in Dallas, but he made the most of it.
Ceballos’ Final NBA Year
During the 2000 offseason, Ceballos was traded to the Detroit Pistons. He only spent 13 games with the team, all coming off the bench, before getting traded to the Miami Heat. In his very short stint with the Pistons, he averaged 5.8 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 0.5 APG, and 0.5 SPG.
Ceballos played 27 regular-season games with the Miami Heat, in which he averaged 6.9 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 0.5 APG, and 0.4 SPG. The Heat made the playoffs, but they were eliminated in the first round, by the Charlotte Hornets, in five games. He averaged 1.7 PPG, 2.0 RPG, and 0.3 APG in three games played.
In the offseason, he signed with the Denver Nuggets, but he was waived by the team before the season began. That would be the end of his NBA journey.
He continued to play basketball for several years on different teams. In 2002, he played on the Las Vegas Slam, the Harlem Globetrotters, the Hapoel Tel Aviv, and the Lokomotiv Mineralnye Vody. The following year, he played for the Sioux Falls Skyforce and the San Miguel Beermen. He went on to play for the Los Angeles Stars, the year after. A year later, he joined the Maywood Buzz. In 2007, he signed as a player with the Phoenix Flames, but switched to a coaching role with the team shortly after. He then went back and played with the Maywood Buzz for another three years, that would be his final official basketball team.
He became part owner and even played for the Arizona Scorpions, once his official basketball career was over.
Work in the Media
Throughout his career, Ceballos appeared in various forms of media.
In 1996, he made an appearance on the children’s show, The Puzzle Place. He followed that up with a guest appearance on the show, Living Single. He appeared as a guest panelist on Nickelodeon’s game show, Figure It Out, in 1998. In 2018, Ceballos and Shawn Marion competed as a team, in season 30 of The Amazing Race, they came in ninth place.
He was part of the 1994 album, B-Ball’s Best Kept Secret, which featured various NBA players and rappers from the 90s. He appeared on two tracks, Flow on, with rapper Warren G, and Ya Don’t Stop, with NBA All-Star Dana Barros, rappers Grand Puba, Sadat X, AG, and Diamond D.
He was employed by the Suns as their in-arena emcee in 2004 and hosted the web show, Nothin’ But Net, on their website. During this period, he also hosted a radio station program for MEGA 104.3 FM in Phoenix, Arizona.
After retiring from basketball, he joined Fox Sports Southwest as a broadcaster, where he covered the Mavericks. Later, he was hired as vice president of community relations by the Mavericks.
In 2011, Ceballos suffered a series of mini heart attacks. After undergoing angioplasty and having two stents put in his heart, he successfully recovered.
In 2021, he contracted COVID-19 and was hospitalized. By September, he was free of the virus, but still had difficulty breathing and walking.
He was named into the Ventura College Hall of Fame.
Ceballos and Kobe Bryant are second cousins. They briefly played together on the Lakers, during Bryant’s rookie year.
Ceballos had a successful basketball career. He was dominant on the court during his college years. He continued his success in the NBA, as he rose through the ranks, from being a role player to one of the faces of the team, during his time with the Lakers. Ceballos achieved some honors along the way, winning the 1992 NBA Slam Dunk Contest and becoming a one-time All-Star with the Lakers.
Since retiring, he has continued to entertain and assist others, in his various roles. His COVID scare in 2021, greatly weakened him, but he overcame the virus and has slowly recovered since.
Ceballos’ tenure with the Mavericks wasn’t long, but he gave his all every time he was on the court, and Mavs fans are grateful for everything he did during his time on the team.