But with plenty of gray sprinkled in his hair, Wallace says his clashes with referees and the media are a thing of the past.
"I'm too old for that," Wallace said. "My kids are older now, so I'm too old for that."
The former North Carolina Tar Heel had returned to Chapel Hill, working out with college players and competing in pro-am leagues. He now takes his place with a group of reserves some 20 years older than the guys he's been around. Kurt Thomas turns 40 on Thursday, Jason Kidd is 39 and Marcus Camby also 38.
Woodson isn't expecting Wallace to play a big role, and Wallace understands he's not coming to New York to have one. If he makes the team, he'll back up center Tyson Chandler and forward Amare Stoudemire, bringing his tough, interior defense and good perimeter shooting that made him such a versatile player.
"This is not something that's definite," Woodson said. "It's an opportunity to look at him and see what he has left, and if he has something left I think it can be a positive for our ballclub."
Wallace said he retired in 2010 for personal reasons and assumed it was for good. But he said those concerns were resolved, and he's eager to play again after not seriously considering it before Woodson's call.
"He's told me his ideas. He's told me his plans, and I just want to see if I can fit in there somewhere," Wallace said. "Like they say: Get in where you fit in."