Bill Walton was one of the greatest players in college and NBA history, and a member of the 1986 championship Boston Celtics.

But he also suffered an unusually large number of injuries, from career-threatening foot problems to life-dimming spinal pain.

But he's limped through it to tell the tale.

The ever-enthusiastic former star recently wrote his autobiography, "Back from the Dead," a reference to his well-known affection for the Grateful Dead.

This is a very entertaining text, especially for those who know basketball.

Many athletes are boring in prose but Walton is upbeat about everything - except injury.

He loved teammate Larry Bird, he really really loved coach Red Auerbach, and he REALLY REALLY loved UCLA coach John Wooden.

The 6-foot-11 center - if he hasn't shrunk due to surgery - offers numerous stories from his days on the court.

He is the reader of the audio book to which I am listening, and he is gushy good.

Sometimes, though, you can't tell if he is kidding. For instance, as a mid-30s millionaire star, he said he went to Bird's hometown of French Lick, Indiana, and collected "revered" earth from the court that Bird practiced on as a child. Good story but really?

He is funny, though, and throws out many clever anecdotes about legends like Wilt, Kareem, Jerry West, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Kevin McHale, the Chief and so many others.

Walton has played with everyone. Plus, he was a TV commentator for years.

The book gets more sobering when he discusses the pain involved with years of operations - maybe five dozen - that he sustained in the last four decades.

He indicates he needed a spiritual counselor to help him "go on" when he couldn't get out of his chair for the back pain. 

So the onetime redhead gets a standing O for making a medical comeback. Now he is a counselor to the chronically ill.

But pain is only a half-court part of this yarn.

Looking at the full-court version, this is a very amusing bio from one of the most colorful, intelligent athletes of the past generation.

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