MILWAUKEE - His jump shot is still silky smooth and laser accurate. He has the same neatly-trimmed haircut.
And the smile, when lit, is just as radiant as it was during the good times with the Seattle SuperSonics - such as when Seattle reached the Western Conference finals in the 1987 NBA playoffs or when he made the 1989 NBA All-Star team.
And though he now wears a different shade of green, Dale Ellis still deeply resents the Seattle press corps.
Ellis, who was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks nearly a year ago for Ricky Pierce, had the smile working overtime while talking to Milwaukee reporters after the Bucks blasted the Sonics 122-106 yesterday afternoon in the Bradley Center.
And why not?
He was the game's leading scorer, netting 23 points by hitting 10 of 15 field-goal attempts, including both of his attempts from beyond the three-point line. And he had secured "bragging rights" against his old team.
But when Milwaukee reporters left to file their stories and only three writers from the Seattle area remained outside his locker, the smile disappeared and Ellis' face was as frosty as a Wisconsin winter morning.
"I have nothing to say to the Seattle media," Ellis said. "I despise you all. I really do."
That's just how Ellis felt when he was traded by Seattle Feb. 15, 1991 for Ricky Pierce. He believed the coverage of his convictions for domestic violence and drunken driving and of his brawl with then-teammate Xavier McDaniel was too intrusive and too personal.
However, Ellis' dislike for Seattle is focused solely on the media. He still makes his home in Seattle and is eager to return to the Coliseum for the Bucks' March 27 date with the Sonics.
"(Yesterday's game) was like a regular game for me," said Ellis, who is the Bucks' leading scorer. "I think it will be different when we play in Seattle. I'll be more uptight, more up for the game because I'll have a lot of friends there. I'm looking forward to that.
"Winning a game like this gives you bragging rights. I had an opportunity to go off on the court, have a good time and rub it in a bit. I can't wait to get to Seattle. I hope we play as well down there."
The Bucks did most of their damage to the Sonics yesterday in the third period. The quarter began with the score tied at 52, but the Bucks routed Seattle 38-21 in the quarter to take a decisive 90-73 lead into the final period.
Sonic Coach George Karl said he emptied his bench during the final period to "protect something for (tonight's) game with Atlanta."
The Sonics (22-24), who are 2-2 after four games of their current six-city road trip, face the Hawks at Atlanta's Omni tonight.
Yesterday's loss was Seattle's ninth straight in the "Brew City," where they haven't won since Nov. 7, 1982.
Though Ellis is giving Seattle writers the silent treatment, Bill King, the Bucks' public-relations director, said he has been a model of citizenship and of cooperation with the press.
At halftime of yesterday's game, Ellis presented a $15,000 check to Milwaukee's United Way campaign. The money came from a fund-raiser organized by Ellis and his wife, Monique.
Sonic forward Michael Cage said Ellis' on-court performance his final 1 1/2 seasons in Seattle was undercut by the publicity generated by his off-court troubles.
"He had a lot of personal problems that took away from his commitment to the team and kept him from being a positive influence on the (Sonics)," Cage said.
Cage said he was surprised Ellis would not talk to all reporters yesterday, but was sympathetic.
"With his personal problems, even though they were mostly self-inflicted, I hope none of us have to go through as much as he has," Cage said. "Deep down inside, I think he is a real nice guy because I got to know him real well. I feel for him."
Cage and Sonic assistant Bob Kloppenburg said Ellis will have to find peace within himself before he'll be comfortable dealing with his past in Seattle.
"I always had a good relationship with him, but I know he's a very angry young man inside," Kloppenburg said. "I don't know exactly what his problems are, but he can be a very wonderful person if he doesn't feel anger toward you."
Cage said: "Sooner or later, you have to be willing to put down the sword and stop cutting. That commitment has to be initiated by him." SONIC REPORT MILWAUKEE 122, SEATTLE 106 NOTES
-- Yesterday's loss - and his own dismal shooting - ruined Ricky Pierce's (12-point) return to the city where he played six-plus seasons.
But Pierce was warmed by the cheers he received when introduced.
"It always make me feel proud when people recognize all the hard work I did while I was here," said Pierce.
-- With four steals yesterday, Milwaukee's Alvin Robertson (1,700) moved past Magic Johnson (1,698) into second place on the NBA's all-time steals list. Atlanta's Maurice Cheeks is No. 1 with 2,234.
-- Milwaukee's Dale Ellis, convicted of drunken driving two years ago in Seattle, still isn't driving automobiles - or so he says.
While Ellis was walking out of the Bucks' locker room with Sonic Nate McMillan, the Bucks' Moses Malone walked up behind the players.
"I know you aren't riding with Dale," Malone said to McMillan.
"No. I'm not driving," Ellis said. "I've got my limo parked outside."
-- Sonic Coach George Karl is tired of hearing about his team's potential. He wants to see results.
"I think have to stop defining this team by what it can be and wait until they become," Karl said. "No one wins with expectations and potential.
NEXT UP: ATLANTA
-- WHEN / WHERE: Today, 4:30 p.m, Omni.
-- BROADCASTS: WTBS cable TV; KJR radio (950 AM).
-- RECORDS: Seattle 22-24; Atlanta 23-22.
-- NOTABLE: Atlanta's seven-game home-court winning streak ended Saturday with an 89-80 loss to Detroit. Atlanta is 14-7 in the Omni. . . . . . . With Dominique Wilkins out for the season, center Kevin Willis is the Atlanta standard-bearer. He's averaging 17.6 points and 16 rebounds a game.
-- SONIC INJURIES: Derrick McKey, thumb surgery (out).
-- HAWK INJURIES: F Dominique Wilkins, Achilles' tendon (out); G Travis Mays, ankle (out).