Word of the accomplishment came at 6 a.m., from an uncle who had just gotten off the night shift.
"I told him to call back at 8 o'clock," Cedric Ceballos said.
Once given the opportunity to wake up, Ceballos was thrilled with the news he had been hoping to get: He was one of three forwards chosen by Western Conference coaches to be reserves in the Feb. 12 All-Star game in Phoenix.
He will be the first Laker to play in the mid-season contest since Magic Johnson and James Worthy in 1992. That it will be in the city where he used to play and still has a home and a business makes it all the more special.
"If it didn't happen, I would have taken it in stride and done my best to get us rolling to the playoffs," said Ceballos, who went into Tuesday night's game against Chicago ranked eighth in the league in scoring and 18th in rebounding. "I was only going to cry once, I told myself.
"I definitely had enough good stats to be an all-star, even last year. It's just to a point where the team is winning. It's the right time."
Said Laker Coach Del Harris: "We're glad Cedric got selected. When a team does well, there will be individual honors. I felt Nick (Van Exel) also deserved a spot on the team. I guess it's hard to get two on there.
"But if we continue to win, the rest of this year and next year, then we should be able to get two on it. It's hard at the start."
It's not so easy at the end, either.
Consider that the two highest-scoring guards in the league--mainstay Clyde Drexler and Jim Jackson--both got passed over in balloting in which coaches vote for players in their own conference but not their own team.
When John Stockton, Mitch Richmond and Gary Payton, all deserving, were picked to join starters Latrell Sprewell and Dan Majerle in the West backcourt, it broke a string of seven consecutive all-star appearances for Drexler.
That's probably nothing compared to the disappointment in Dallas. Jackson was No. 4 in the league in scoring at 26.4 heading into Tuesday and Jamal Mashburn was No. 6 at 24.4, all while the Mavericks have made nice strides, but neither made the team. Karl Malone, Detlef Schrempf and Ceballos got the nod over Mashburn at forward.
The Eastern Conference had a complete changing of the guards. None of the choices from 1994--B.J. Armstrong, Mookie Blaylock, John Starks, Mark Price and Kenny Anderson--made it this season. Starters Reggie Miller and Anfernee Hardaway and reserves Dana Barros and Joe Dumars did.
Ceballos, Vin Baker, Barros and Tyrone Hill are all first-time honorees.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
NBA All-Star Rosters
Rosters for the All-Star game, to be played Feb. 12 at Phoenix:
Player Pos Team Charles Barkley F Phoenix Shawn Kemp F Seattle Hakeem Olajuwon C Houston Latrell Sprewell G Golden State Dan Majerle G Phoenix
Player Pos Team Cedric Ceballos F Lakers Karl Malone F Utah Detlef Schrempf F Seattle David Robinson C San Antonio Gary Payton G Seattle Mitch Richmond G Sacramento John Stockton G Utah
*EASTERN CONFERENCE STARTERS
Player Pos Team Grant Hill F Detroit Scottie Pippen F Chicago Shaquille O'Neal C Orlando Anfernee Hardaway G Orlando Reggie Miller G Indiana
Player Pos Team Tyrone Hill F Cleveland Larry Johnson F Charlotte Vin Baker C Milwaukee Patrick Ewing C New York Alonzo Mourning C Charlotte Dana Barros G Philadelphia Joe Dumars G Detroit