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It used to be a given that one could look around a Boston Celtics' practice or a game and see some of the franchise's most prestigious figures such as Red Auerbach, Bill Russell during Kevin Garnett's tenure with the team, in particular, Tommy Heinsohn, Jo Jo White, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, and Tom "Satch" Sanders.

The passing of time has taken its toll on what was a rich and proud tradition, but Celtics' head coach, Joe Mazzulla, is working to change that.

Over the summer, he emailed the organization's alums, inviting them to return to build a connection with the current roster.

From Sanders to Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Leon Powe, Eddie House, and Sam Vincent, individuals who helped the franchise raise 17 championship banners stopped by the Auerbach Center during training camp.

"The past should be the banners, but it should be the people," expressed Mazzulla as Boston geared up for a season that's seen them build an NBA-leading 52-14 record, 5.5 games better than the second-place Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder. "And so, I thought it was extremely important that any and every Celtic is welcome to a practice or a game so we can build that brotherhood of what we are."

Since the current campaign got underway, it's no surprise which of the franchise's former players has visited the most.

Pierce has always maintained a connection with the team and region where he built a Hall of Fame career. That includes returning to take in Thursday's 127-112 win over the Phoenix Suns.

He brought fans to their feet every time they showed him on the jumbotron, danced to 50 Cent's In Da Club, and hugged Malcolm Butler as the TD Garden faithful showered the Super Bowl XLIX hero with applause featuring thankful and congratulatory undertones on the heels of him announcing his retirement.

A day later, with Pierce on hand for practice, Derrick White conveyed, "It's been amazing. I feel like this year, we've had a lot of guys come back. Just having their support, them believing in us, them wanting to be around, I think that's amazing. And guys that have played at a high level and won at a high level, so, any time you can have them around, it's amazing."

The 2008 NBA Finals MVP continuing to come back and strengthen his bond with the team's current iteration exemplifies what Mazzulla intended when he sent that email to the franchise's former players over the summer.

"Yeah, I started this past season, inviting all the guys down, and he kind of normalized his presence by being here for training camp, being in coaches meetings, being at practice," said Boston's bench boss on Friday.

"I felt like that was really a big step to kind of tie those, the past and the present together, and make them more humanizing instead of through the banners and through pictures. And so having those guys back is great, and that's the goal, is how to build a connection between the past and the present through relationships, so it's always special to have those guys around."