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Dave Bing: A Life of Challenge

December 7, 2012

My admiration for Dave Bing goes back a long way. I felt that I knew about him. After reading Drew Sharp’s fine book, “Dave Bing: A Life of  Challenge,” and having learned more about this incredibly, determined man, both my admiration and knowledge regarding Dave increased greatly.

Of course Dave was a great basketball player both in college where he played in the backcourt with long time Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and in the NBA where his best years were with the Detroit Pistons. The fact Washington D.C. born Bing was traded from Detroit to the Washington Bullets and ultimately David would head Bing Steel and become Detroit’s current mayor is truly remarkable.

Sharp does a good job in revealing Bing’s background, citing his father Hasker’s credo about “doing” and his mother Juanita’s “old fashioned” devotion to family, both of which have always stayed with Bing.

Dave was denied a loan to help purchase a home early in his basketball career. So what did Bing do? He worked in the bank, learning all he could about the loan process. This is just one instance when this man’s incredible determination and logic helped him. There are many other instances and Sharp takes us to them. He also adds historical background and gets better insight into past events with current interviews. One such instance, was Bing’s contract problem with the Pistons before the 1974-1975 season. Then Pistons’ coach Ray Scott gives his changed perspective, all these years later.

In addition to all Dave Bing has accomplished and all he will do in the future, let me add this story. It was the day of the 1976 NCAA Final Four and I called Dave Bing, by then with the Bullets, in his hotel room. One could do that in those days before “assumed names” for athletes in their hotel stays. Dave talked to me for nearly twenty minutes, asking about me as well as answering some of my questions regarding his career and the state of the NBA. I know we both made predictions about that day’s Final Four (yes the games were at least started during the day back then). I do not recall whether Dave’s picks were right. However, not only does it not matter, but not many did a better job of looking ahead. Planning, setting goals and working hard Dave Bing looked ahead at far more important things than basketball games. Sure one never knows, a little luck is needed but for the most part, and Dave Bing made his own luck.

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