Bill Walton had a long, injury filled career in the NBA. In his new book, Back from the Dead, he details his life through mainly college, the NBA, and post-NBA. His time at UCLA shaped the player he would become in the NBA and despite his long career in the NBA, he didn’t play the majority of the time. As a fan of basketball as a whole, this book was enlightening as to the career of a player who not only played before I was born, but who is one I didn’t pay much attention to when perusing through the history of basketball as I eagerly wanted to learn more. This may be in part because as a Lakers fan, I didn’t pay much attention to Walton’s main stints in Portland and Boston. Also, Larry Bird was the man in Boston to pay attention to at the time. Either way, that was a mistake on my behalf.
I was stunned by how many injuries Bill Walton went through and how his stuttering was so bad that he could hardly talk. What was more stunning though, was the way he overcame each of those injuries and the stuttering. He ended up being a commentator for games, which was a huge accomplishment for him. Injury after injury, he continued to get up and try again despite how much pain he was in. While all of this surprised me, it wasn’t the full content of the book. His relationship with John Wooden up until the coach’s death was fascinating to read about. Wooden is considered the greatest coach of all time and a look inside how he worked and how he coached his teams was intriguing and left me wanting to know more about the coach.
The book is well written and the pace seemed perfect. Walton didn’t dwell two much on one portion of his career as a basketball player. He had a brief stint with the Clippers that let’s readers know how hated Donald Sterling was then, as he is today. But who would really be surprised by that? Ultimately, this book was a great read about his career. I also loved the musical aspect that Walton tied in. He spent a lot of time with the Grateful Dead and those stories were a bright spot through the discussion of endless injuries. A lot of great basketball books have been coming out lately, and I’d add this one to the list. You can grab a copy over at Amazon.