By Sean Grande, 98.5 The Sports Hub

BOSTON (CBS) — “Grande, these stairs have taken years off my career, man.”

He said it to me more than once, different times we’d arrived at TD Garden at the same time. And until the first time he’d said it to me, it had never struck me odd that knees of professional athletes, knees worth tens of millions of dollars, knees that change the course of sports history, at the Garden are subjected to three flights of stairs just to get to the court.

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But I usually just laughed as we made the climb together.

Paul Pierce doesn’t have to take stairs today.

Sometime after 11 this morning, the Wizards team bus will back up that crazy thin ramp off Nashua Street and into the Garden. It’s a much easier way to go. Unless you’re the driver, of course.

I mean, it wouldn’t’ surprise me if he came in the old way, wouldn’t surprise me if he took the stairs for old time’s sake. There are very few, I mean come on now, there are very, very few athletes who’ve accomplished what he has, a championship and a hall of fame career in Boston. But there are none, who enjoyed it more.

He didn’t need this viral video to prove it, but he dropped it anyway.

His first return, along with KG to the Garden in January was for me the signature moment of the Celtics season. The lasting images not onluy honored the returning heroes, but reminded the basketball world that being a legendary Celtic, being a beloved athlete in Boston, is a truly elite fraternity.

He struggled that night, Paul Pierce playing through emotion the way he did in October of 2008, taking the floor just moments after getting his ring and raining the 17th banner. It wouldn’t surprise me if it happened again today. Although, I don’t think he’ll spend much time looking over his shoulder at this record. It’s going to be a very long time before anyone catches him.

ALL-TIME LEADING SCORERS – TD GARDEN

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1. Paul Pierce 12,132
2. Antoine Walker 5,580
3. Kevin Garnett 3,442
4. Ray Allen 3,364
5. Rajon Rondo 3,020

The Garden records are endless, there have been 33 40-point games in the 20-year history of TD Garden. He’s authored 11 of them. Thousands of players have played this game at the highest level. There are only ten on this list.

MOST POINTS FOR ONE TEAM, NBA HISTORY

1. Karl Malone, Jazz 36,374
2. Kobe Bryant, Lakers 32,216
3. Michael Jordan, Bulls 29,277
4. Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks 27,148
5. Hakeem Olajuwon, Rockets 26,511
6. John Havlicek, Celtics 26,395
7. Reggie Miller, Pacers 25,279
8. Jerry West, Lakers 25,192
9. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lakers 24,176
10. Paul Pierce, Celtics 24,021

But it’s not the points. It’s the moments. The memories. And the smile. The one losing seasons couldn’t erase. The one a 1999 nightclub attack so brutal it came within inches of ending his life, couldn’t either. The only time it seemed he lost that smile he wore as a Celtic, was the day he wasn’t a Celtic anymore.

Maybe it was fitting that after his 15-year run in Boston ended, he wore black for a year.

But Brooklyn black, or the red, white and Wizard blue he’ll wear today in Boston, it doesn’t matter.

He’s yours, and you’re his.

We’ve climbed a lot of stairs together.

Sean Grande has been calling Boston Celtics games since 2001. Hear his call of the games alongside Cedric Maxwell on 98.5 The Sports Hub starting 30 minutes prior to tipoff! Click here for a list of affiliates on the Celtics Radio Network.

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