Feb 01

Cool Pops and Hard Tops

By sarahhecht Posted in: DanteCunningham
Hide yo Xbox, hide yo iPod, Dante’s taking everything apart up in here! Okay, so he probably wouldn’t take your electronics apart now, but travel back to his childhood and they wouldn’t stand a chance.

Dante Cunningham is “that guy.” The one who’s always tinkering with things. Who has to know how everything works. He’ll take apart a toaster to learn it’s secrets and then put it back together after he’s learned all it has to offer. Well, he’ll try to put it back together. No guarantees.

“Anything I could get my hands on, remotes, VCRs and if I couldn’t put it back together it went under my bed,” Dante said. “I had so much stuff. I used to get in trouble all the time for that.”

Childish curiosity led to more than just a graveyard of electronics left in his wake. The greatest gift of his thirst for knowledge was a close bond with his father, or “Pops” as he calls him. A man who also instilled in him a love of cars.

“My dad, as much as he wanted me to be on the court, practicing or getting better,” said Dante. “He was always like ‘whatever makes you happy, whatever you want to do, I’m always there to support you 100%.’ Cars was just something to get away from basketball. Just me and him, the radio playing in the background, I was just learning real world things.”

Nowadays, Dante has a bit more on his plate. Stepping into an expanded role with the Trail Blazers has limited his personal time significantly. This makes the time he does have to himself even more essential. So what does he do to relax? Yep, you guessed it. He takes things apart and puts them back together.

On the rare occasion of a team maintenance day, you’re likely to find Dante in his garage. He spends all the time he can with the new love in his life. His 1971 Cutlass Supreme.

After scouring the internet for the exact car he wanted Dante took the plunge. “This is my first classic old school car and I’m keeping this forever,” he said.

“I love all muscle cars. I love the big blocks, this is a 455 big block in there so it’s all the horse power you really need. This is my love. I love these cars, you can literally just jump on the gas and just spin it out.”

Like in his younger years, Dante’s propensity for tinkering continues. He takes his Cutlass apart and puts it back together. Well, sort of. Sometimes it can get a bit tough.

“That’s probably is the hardest part,” Dante said. “I can always get in there and take it apart. But it’s the problem of getting it back together, functioning and trusting I can go down the highway with it without it falling apart.”

For Dante, muscle cars are more than just four wheels and a way to get from point A to point B. They’re a connection to Pops.

“It was something that me and my dad always got into and my dad was really big into old school cars, ” Dante said. “I remember the first time I really fell in love with it. We were sitting at a light or something and an old school came by. My dad goes, put your thumb out the window and then the guy gave me a thumbs back!  And he lit up and I was like, man that’s so cool.”

The heart-pumping thrill that Dante gave to a stranger at a light as a kid is now one he experiences on a regular basis. He said, “As soon as I got this one you see kids and people  give you a thumbs up and you’re like oh yeah!”

Old school cars and Dante are a bonded pair for life. He’ll be hanging with Pops and fiddling with engines long after the end of his hoops career. Dante knows what his future looks like.

“Me and my Pops talk about it all the time, like having a shop full of old cars, full of cars and just have fun with them. Even if it’s just us with a four car garage on the side of our house, that’d be for me,” said Dante. “I just want to be able to always come back and just jump in a car and have fun with it.”

From remotes to cars Dante is “that guy.” And “that guy” has a pretty sweet ride.


  1. Nice blog.

    by Lkiki503 on 2/1/2011 3:35 PM
  2. Nice article Sarah.. very interesting about DC.. Makes me love him even more!

    by GuitarJ111 on 2/1/2011 3:35 PM
  3. Solid piece on Dante. I wonder how the car is gonna turn out.

    by Dan Harbison on 2/1/2011 3:46 PM
  4. I'll make sure to stay updated and share some more later!

    by sarahhecht on 2/1/2011 3:50 PM
  5. :):)SECOND JOB:):)

    by sunny on 2/1/2011 4:03 PM
  6. Dante is the man! And his Defense... if only there was a better way to put it into the stat sheet! The stats just don't do him any justice.. he brings soo much more!

    Nice Blog, I love gettin to know our Blazers more, and am glad to see DC rubbin off on a few more peeps!

    Go Dante, and Go BLAZERS!!

    by Blazermaniak on 2/1/2011 10:07 PM
  7. Great insight on the Inferno man. Too bad I couldn't have something like that with my dad, but we did have one thing; our love of sports, in particular the Blazers. Miss ya, Dad. R.I.P.

    by blazerdarren77 on 2/1/2011 11:20 PM
  8. great blog im with dante i love old school cars but back then in my day they werent...i do the thumbs up with old school cars...i love it i come from a family of grease monkeys so this took me back. wondering if his car will stay together going down the street...and how it turns out give us follow up

    by oregongal47 view (TG) on 2/1/2011 11:28 PM
  9. Any chance we can see a photo of the Cutlass? I plan on pimping my 1974 WV Thing soon. Five years of parking it on the street in Hawaii has put quite a bit of rust on it.

    by tominhawaii on 2/2/2011 4:11 AM
  10. great blog! Love hearing more about DC and will look forward to hearing how the car turns out- would love to see pics as well. I can totally see DC taking things apart. ;-)

    by RedRudy5 on 2/2/2011 9:18 AM
  11. if this were 6 years ago, we'd have a blog about Zach Randolph accompanying his brother to a club where a homicide took place. now, we have a great story about a very cool guy enjoying an off-court hobby about which he is passionate. the character of this team has come a very long way. Dante' is a great guy and this is a great story. thanks Sarah!

    by Kassandra on 2/7/2011 5:02 PM
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