PHILADELPHIA — Robert Covington looked very much at home Tuesday night strolling around the bowels of the Wells Fargo Center.
He could barely walk 10 feet without seeing a familiar face, evidence of how much of a fan favorite he became during his five years with the Philadelphia 76ers.
"It's a little bit weird just being on the other side," said Covington, who is still recovering from a bone bruise on his right knee.
Covington didn't play Tuesday night when the 76ers routed the Timberwolves 149-107.
"It's going to be emotional not being able to play," he added before the game. "I received a lot of love here, and like I said, I'm just thankful for the memories I had here."
As thankful as Covington was for his time with the 76ers, he has managed to shift his focus since being traded to the Timberwolves a couple of months ago.
It was a rather shocking move at the time that featured Covington, Dario Saric and Jerryd Bayless going to the Timberwolves, and Jimmy Butler, Justin Patton and a future second-round draft pick going to the 76ers.
Since then, Covington, Saric and Bayless have slowly started to find their place in the Twin Cities.
"I've adjusted, for the most part," said Saric, who scored 11 points and added five rebounds and two assists in Tuesday's loss. "There are little details I need to adjust. I've started to feel like it's my new home and my new team for the future."
Still, the memories came flooding back for both Covington and Saric as soon as they stepped into the arena they used to call home.
Both players endeared themselves to the local fans during their time with the 76ers, building a cult following of sorts that stayed with them even after they were shipped out of town.
"It's one of the craziest fan bases," Covington said. "Just diehard fans that love their sports teams. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. I've enjoyed the fans, good and bad, and embraced it all. This is my first home, so I'll always love it here. I wouldn't change it for the world."
"It was an amazing atmosphere with how close we became on the court," Saric added. "This was my first home. You're always going to have things to remember."
Both players said they still talk to their former teammates on a fairly regular basis, and it's clear their presence is missed in the 76ers' locker room.
"I love those guys," 76ers coach Brett Brown said, adding that he still follows both Covington and Saric closely. "They're good people. We all an endured incredible sort of circumstances over our years."