Grant Lucas's Blog

Grant Lucas

Feb 09

The Masked Inferno

By Grant Lucas Posted in: Blazers, Bulls, Cavaliers, DanteCunningham
Everybody take a minute to think back, back to the 111-105 victory that sent the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA-record 24th consecutive loss. Now, focus on the second quarter.

In that frame, Dante Cunningham battled Cleveland's Samardo Samuels for a loose ball. Samuels fought for position. Literally.

Although Portland gained possession, Samuels swung his elbow that clocked Cunningham just above the eye, sending him to the floor, hands covering his face.

"The whole time I thought that I cracked my eyebrow - that's how hard it felt at the time - but coming up and seeing the blood, it was just too thick and too much to be my eyebrow," Cunningham said.

At this moment, I'm sure all Trail Blazer fans leaned forward and dropped their heads into their hands, saying, "This can't be happening again!"

Cunningham was escorted off the floor, as trainers took a look at him. It didn't feel like his nose bleeding. There was no throbbing. When he blew his nose, however, he found out differently.

"At the time, I was coming back out until I blew my nose," he said. "Blood came out of my eyeball instead of my nose. That's when they figured it was broken... This is basketball. I get hit with elbows all the time. It's the first time I've ever broken something, so that's new. This is basketball, so you got to play."

Cunningham was diagnosed with a fractured right orbit - the part of the skull that houses the eye.

No worries, Maniacs. The Inferno is back. In fact, Samuels' elbow nearly created J.J. Abrams character or someone that Marvel Comics looked at and said, "How did we never think to make this guy?"

Cunningham was fitted with a mask to cover the top half of his face, similar, if not identical to, Rip Hamilton's. Inferno's, however, had a distinct feature to it.

Because of his "pounding headaches" that occurred when exposed to bright light, trainers placed a tinted lens over the eyes. During Monday's pregame, Cunningham walked out onto the court sporting it. If he had a cape, it might have been flowing. He looked like a superhero. His teammates thought otherwise.

"I was getting all kinds of names the whole time warming up," Cunningham said. "Everything, a whole bunch of stuff that I don't even remember. I had a Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, anything you could think of with glasses."

Cunningham suited up for Portland's matchup with the Chicago Bulls, but he didn't play. Coaches said that if they needed to use him, they would. But they didn't. He rested.

"At the time, I was light-sensitive because the whole time since the accident, I was in my dark room, glasses on every time I went out," he said. "As soon as the bright lights came on, I had a pounding headache."

Since then, Cunningham's light sensitivity has lifted. The lens has been removed. The mask will remain, at least for a few weeks, but Head Coach Nate McMillan said Cunningham has adjusted well to the new accessory and Cunningham agreed.

"It felt good. I got in early, got some shots up just to get comfortable with it," he said after practice on Wednesday. "The more and more I shoot with it, the better it feels."

The only issue that ever arose: resolved. Sweat had collected on his forehead and dripped down inside the mask. A headband was implemented and voila - fixed.

Cunningham said he hopes to have it off and "back to normal" soon, but he said there's a slight possibility the mask will stay for the rest of the season, depending on what happens in the near future, as he will return to action Friday night in Toronto.

"If I come out and go for a career high, I might think about it."


  1. OK, 'The Masked Inferno' IS kinda clever. ;-)

    by occassia on 2/9/2011 2:18 PM
  2. i love the superhero part the mask is slick

    by oregongal47 view (TG) on 2/9/2011 10:41 PM
  3. you know something, i hope he does have a career high against toronto!. the mask is different, but kind of looks cool if you look at the pic long enough. of course, i think it's ironic that the Masked Inferno had a sensitivity to sunlight!

    by Kassandra on 2/10/2011 1:50 PM
  4. I'm with ya Kassandra.. GET A CAREER HIGH TONIGHT!!.. and then the next game.. and next game, lol.. if he were to do that.. i think i'd buy him a cape....

    I think it'd have like D C and then a bigger Capital I in the middle, fun idea! ^I^ Like a black cape on the back with red letters.. and a shimmery silver on the underside.. lol....

    Ok.. i got carried away..

    Go Masked Inferno, and GO BLAZERS!!!!!

    by Blazermaniak on 2/11/2011 1:16 PM
  5. I have read Grant Lucas's blog. most of his articles full of energy and they gave terrific intelligence about game. (Moderator edit for spam.)

    by alyssa on 2/14/2011 5:01 PM
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