By Nugg Doctor
When in discussion of great guards from the late 60’s through the 1970’s many names come to mind that symbolize greatness. Sure there is some great monikers that strike in the forefront of everyone’s mind like “The Big O” and the self-proclaimed “Basketball Gypsy”, but too much, and too often does a player who didn’t need the high profile and flashy nick name gets forgotten. That player is Dave Bing. Bing was a product of the same neighborhood that produced basketball legend Elgin Baylor and was instilled with a sense of community and excellence that has continued to shine after his illustrious career in basketball.
Dave Bing growing up initially didn’t take to basketball naturally. His real passion through his early years was baseball. It wasn’t until a high school baseball coach urged him to play basketball that history would be able to appreciate Bing on the hardwood.
As a collegiate athlete at Syracuse University Bing was phenomenal. In three varsity seasons he would quietly average 24.6 points per game and be honored as an All-American his senior year. History would dictate that the Detroit Pistons would hold the second pick in the 1966 NBA draft and they would pick Bing immediately after Cazzie Russell from the University of Michigan. Cazzie would turn out to be a solid pro for years to come, but he was nowhere near the jewel that was Dave Bing. Bing would win Rookie of the Year by averaging 20 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.1 assists. He would follow that up by leading the league in scoring at 27.1 points per game. That same year he beat out Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Earl Monroe, and Hal Greer for the scoring title and it was the first time a guard had lead the league in scoring since the days of Max Zolofsky in 1948.
Bing would play nine years with the Detroit Pistons in total. Followed by a two-year stint with Washington and a one-year ride with the Boston Celtics. In that twelve-year career Bing would unsuspectingly solidify himself as one of the all-time great guards. His career numbers are impressive at 20.3 points, six rebounds, and almost four assists. His basketball career accolades are staggering. Bing was All-NBA twice, (1968 and ’71, All-NBA second team in 1974, seven time All-Star (1968, ’69, ’71, ’73, ’74, ’75, ’76), and NBA All-Star game MVP in 1976. Furthermore, a Detroit Piston will never wear the number 21 ever again, and Bing was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1989.
A hefty career full of highlights, but many would argue that it is what Bing has accomplished after a life in basketball that is even more a testament to what kind of person and businessman is Dave Bing. During the off-seasons in the NBA Bing worked in the Chrysler bank and studied finance and deal making. It wasn’t too long before Bing figured he was ready start his own company, and it was with the same professionalism he brought to the NBA that has made his business just as successful as his days on the hardwood.
In 1980, Bing opened up appropriately named Bing Steel in Detroit. In ten years Bing had built one of the largest African-American owned businesses in the entire country and was creating revenue in excess of 61 million dollars a year.
Bing is also quite the humanitarian. During budget crisis in Detroit Bing once organized a campaign that raised over $300,000 before taxpayers approved an increase that enabled public schools to continue sporting activities. As for the $300,000, Bing graciously still donated the money! It was stories like this one that truly makes Dave Bing a special basketball player, teammate, businessman, and person. He used a beautiful jump shot and lightning speed to dominate basketball games, but Dave Bing was destined for success regardless of arena.
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