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Recollections and reflections from The Tradition’s 2023 honorees

Kevin Faulk, Doc Rivers, Briana Scurry, Bob Sweeney, and Dennis Eckersley at TD Garden Wednesday night. (Dana White is not pictured.)Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

As he prepared the Celtics for the 2007-08 season, Doc Rivers took the team for a duck boat ride.

The coach wanted his players to visualize what it would be like when they brought home Banner 17. Rivers had seen the Red Sox and Patriots on the duck boats after winning titles, and after the Celtics formed their Big Three by acquiring Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to join Paul Pierce, Rivers felt it was their time to win it all.

There was a lot of joking and swearing during the trip, Rivers said. Some of the players, including Garnett, didn’t quite get the visualization exercise at first. Garnett was new to the city and hadn’t been on a duck boat.


Eventually, things clicked. The Celtics won the title that season and rode the duck boats at a championship parade of their own.

During the parade, Garnett was excited to be back on the boat. He was still swearing, but this time it was out of joy.

“That’s the [expletive] boat,” Garnett said, according to Rivers.

Rivers, who spent nine seasons as Celtics coach, was one of six honorees at The Sports Museum’s 22nd Tradition awards program at TD Garden Wednesday.

Doc Rivers. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

“It means the most to me,” Rivers said. “No one other than Red [Auerbach] has coached more games for the Boston Celtics than me. The fact that I did that and am getting honored for that is really a special thing for me.

“I have an amazing bond with the city. I haven’t lived here, but I never left here. So this is very special.”

Here are a few highlights from the event:

Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley, who had two stints with the Red Sox before transitioning to the broadcast booth, said he was happy to be back in Boston.


“It’s good timing because I retired a year ago, and when I retired, it was sad being on TV and saying goodbye,” Eckersley said. “I was so emotional. So having something like this is a little happier.

“It’s definitely an honor. I was in Boston for a long time. I miss it, but life goes on.”

Dennis Eckersley.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Eckersley, who now lives on the West Coast, said his passion is spending time with his 5-year-old twin grandchildren. He loved the adrenaline that came with broadcasting Red Sox games, but he doesn’t miss it because he did enough of it. It’s time to focus on family.

“I need to be there, right? What’s life about?” Eckersley said. “I was playing in the big leagues for 24 years or whatever it was. I was gone all the time. The TV thing wasn’t as bad, I was around, but you’re just not in your family’s life. So now I have a chance to just be hanging around.”

Before she helped the US women’s soccer team to Olympic gold medals in 1996 and 2004, Briana Scurry wrote a message on her bedroom wall:

“1996 Olympics: I have a dream.”

Her dream came true, and she helped inspire a generation of women’s soccer fans. But her career ended after she suffered a traumatic brain injury when she was kneed in the head during a match. She spoke about falling into a deep depression, having to pawn her gold medals, and having suicidal thoughts.


Briana Scurry. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

The reason she couldn’t follow through with her suicide attempt, she said, was that someone would have to tell her mother that she was dead. She could not stand the thought of that, so she walked away from the waterfall she was planning to jump into.

She went on to meet the love of her life, Chryssa Zizos, whom she credits with helping to turn her life around. She has since become an author, media personality, and advocate for those with brain injuries.

UFC president Dana White said he couldn’t have imagined being honored at TD Garden back when he was chased out of Boston by a criminal element years ago.

“You weren’t thinking about it at that time,” White said. “But the city was a different place at that time, especially South Boston, you know what I mean? It was what it was at the time. It’s just another cool, crazy part of the city. It’s a very unique place.”

Dana White. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

White, who moved to Las Vegas after quitting his job at the Boston Harbor Hotel, said he’s still living out his dream by putting on major fights.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft once referred to Kevin Faulk as a Swiss Army knife. The versatile running back was an impact player in more ways than one.

“The motto in New England was the more you can do, the longer you stay around,” Faulk said. “So I embraced it.

Kevin Faulk.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

“I was fortunate enough to run the ball and catch the ball, and when I came to New England, I learned how to pass-block. That’s the No. 1 reason why I was able to stay here so long. I was able to protect Tom Brady. Being able to accomplish those tasks was about being consistent in every last thing.”


Bob Sweeney, a Boxborough native and former Boston College standout, played six seasons for the Bruins and now serves as president of the Boston Bruins Foundation.

“If you get a chance to play for your hometown team, that’s something you’ll never forget,” Sweeney said.

Bob Sweeney. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Khari Thompson can be reached at khari.thompson@globe.com.