Gerald Wallace sits in a chair in the visitors' locker room Friday before Portland plays Charlotte.
"The chairs aren't as comfortable," Wallace says. "The lockers are a lot smaller. It's not the same atmosphere."
The Bobcats traded Wallace to the Trail Blazers Feb. 24. He is back, in Time Warner Cable Arena, for a night.
"The city was great to us," he says. "The city and the fans. It seems like we've been here our whole lives."
It was seven seasons. Until the trade, he was in town as long as long as the Bobcats were.
Somebody asks Wallace if he and his family will stay in Charlotte after he retires.
"We're just trying to get through the season," he says.
Wallace invokes emotion. He talks about the emotion of the evening. A team employee approaches Wallace when he enters the building and tries to talk but begins to cry.
"He is the nicest guy," she says.
I ask him if he'll feel emotional when he's introduced, and when the crowd cheers.
"Yeah," he says. "I ain't even going to lie. Yeah. It will."
Fans, Wallace says, "helped me get where I'm at today. They've helped me become the player I am. They've always been 100% behind me in everything I've done. I owe them a lot of respect for what they've done for me the last seven years."
Wallace is greeted by cries of "Gerald! Gerald!" when he jogs onto the court to warm up. He hits his first two jumpers form 18 feet, and shoots his familiar pattern of jumpers. When he leaves the court, he stops in the tunnel next to the court and signs autographs for five, 10, almost 15 minutes. A little kid drops his Gerald Wallace jersey onto the ground and Wallace picks it up, signs it and walks five feet up the ramp to hand it to the child.
The uniform is different. But the man is the same.