25TH ANNIVERSARY SPOTLIGHT: Dave Bing

November 30, 2016

It is very rare in life to find someone that is highly accomplished in three completely different professions in life. However, Dave Bing is one of those rare finds as he embodies a Hall of Fame basketball player, successful business owner, and elected politician having served as Mayor of Detroit from 2008-2013.

Bing’s fame and success though did not come without its challenges. At age five, Bing lost much of his vision in his left eye when playing an improvised game of “horsey.” Bing did not only have to overcome his injury, but he also was undersized when he was younger. It was rare that the older kids let him play, and in fact encouraged him to stay off the courts. As a result, Bing focused on baseball, but was encouraged by Coach William Roundtree to give basketball a try again.

Bing’s basketball success in high school attracted top basketball programs such as UCLA and the University of Michigan, but Bing chose to attend his hometown school, Syracuse University. Bing says he chose Syracuse because he wanted to play near home, and because he doubted his basketball skills and thought he would standout more at a lower tier program.

Bing certainly stood out, as he led the Orangemen in scoring his sophomore year with 22.2 points, then his Junior year with 23.2 points, and then again his senior year with 28.4 points; which was also the fifth highest scoring average in the nation and earned him a spot on the All-American team.

After finishing his collegiate playing career, Bing would be drafted second overall in the 1966 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons. In Bing’s first season playing point guard for the Pistons, he averaged 20.0 points, was selected to the All-NBA Rookie Team, and was awarded with the NBA Rookie of the Year award.

Bing’s career would not slow down averaging a league leading 27.1 points the following year, earning himself a scoring title, and being named to the All-NBA First Team. In total, Bing would make 7 All-Star games, would be named to the All-NBA team twice (68’,71’), and would win the All-Star Game MVP Award in 1976. Throughout his career Bing averaged 20.3 points, 6.0 assist, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. Bing would later be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and would also be selected to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1996.

Bing’s success continued off the court after his playing career as well. Shortly after retiring, Bing began working for Paragon Steel doing their shipping, in addition to some of their sales operations. Bing worked there for two years before opening up his own company called Bing Steel. In their first year Bing Steel struggled mightily, but soon thereafter they struck a deal with General Motors and the company began to see success. In fact, the company began to see so much success, that in 1984 Dave Bing would be awarded the National Minority Small Business Person of the Year by none other than President Ronald Reagan.

Bill Simmons in his book of basketball said, “Bing took care of himself, dealt wonderfully with the media, did a ton of charity work, became one of the country’s leading black businessmen, founded the NBRPA, and was named Detroit’s Humanitarian of the Year in 1985.” Bing did so much for others during and after his playing career that he truly embodies that of a model citizen. The NBA believed so as well, awarding Bing the Schick Achievement Award in 1990 for his work in the community after his playing career.

One of Bing’s largest contributions was the National Basketball Retired Players Organization. Bing said he got heavily involved because Earl Lloyd (the 1st African-American player in NBA history) worked for him as the Community Relations Director for the Bing Group. Earl had complained to Bing many times about the lack of involvement by many of the “Pre-1965 players,” as the NBA had not created its pension plan until 1965. In response, Bing contacted Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes, whom he was connected with through Syracuse, and the two of them began to contact approximately 170 other players who were not receiving any benefits.

Bing answered yet another call, deciding to run for Mayor of Detroit in 2008 to help rebuild a city that he loved and had been a part of for more than 40 years. He proved that the basics of good performance, integrity and business, can be applied to any area or industry, bringing a renewed sense of trust and hope to the City of Detroit.

Poised to make the tough decisions, he began to lay the groundwork for solid city government by instituting the toughest ethics ordinance in the city’s history. He and his team of professionals also carefully analyzed ways to restructure operations to improve efficiency, and to tackle the city’s systemic issues.

Bing is married to Yvette Bing, with whom he has shared more than 23 years. He is also the proud father of three, and grandfather of four.