Fast and curious: Dante Cunningham draws attention in massive truck

One Pelicans employee suspected it was some sort of souped-up big rig.

A New Orleans resident worried the National Guard had been called in.

The guesses span a wide range, but any first glimpse at Dante Cunningham’s ride usually leads to the same question.

“What in the world is that?” said one Pelicans teammate, upon spotting the behemoth in the parking lot of the team facility after a return from a recent road trip.

The “that” would be a sports chassis, the mini-horse version of the heavy-duty trucks you see hauling up and down highways across the country.

Most are used to pull large trailers -- horses, RVs, boats and the like. Cunningham, a car enthusiast and noted sportsman, got his from “a guy” in Arizona he often turns to for his vehicle needs in order to transport cars and belongings from Portland, where he began his NBA career in 2009, to New Orleans, where he’s played the past three seasons.

“It’s just a breeze to tow with it if you’re towing two or more cars,” Cunningham said. “It’s easier. And it’s comfy -- it’s got a bed in the back. So you can just pull over and go to sleep.”

He also gets around in it like your average sedan, driving it to the grocery store and going to and from work. Only his day-to-day vehicle towers over the others in the lot, including teammates’ luxury SUVs, at the Pelicans’ Metairie, Louisiana, practice facility.

Still, Cunningham says it’s easy to get around -- and that he can fit his monster truck into just one parking space. Sort of.

“I’m on that line and I’m on that line,” he said, “and hanging 4 feet out in the middle of the [parking lot].”

Several Pelicans players, including recent addition DeMarcus Cousins, have taken a peek inside. Though none, Cunningham says, has gone for a spin in it.

But the truck certainly has become a source of intrigue, both around the organization and around town.

“You can’t go anywhere without someone asking you a question about it,” Cunningham said.