| Detroit Free Press
Using a metaphor from basketball, Dave Bing often advises “attacking” a situation by taking on any tasks.
“Everything that I’ve ever done, I’ve attacked it,” Bing said. “I have not been a guy that would lay back and just hope something happens. You made things happen.”
That includes having a successful basketball career after suffering a childhood injury, moving to play the sport in a city that he didn’t know much about and many other obstacles.
So Bing decided to write a book, with author T.V. LoCiero, detailing his life. The autobiography, titled “Attacking the Rim: My Journey from NBA Legend to Business Leader to Big-City Mayor to Mentor,” was released Tuesday and is available through Triumph Books and Amazon for $28, with many digital options at a lower price.
Originally from Washington, D.C., Bing details in the book how he eventually became a college student at Syracuse University, and how Detroit became his home.
Bing’s family never moved to Boston when he began playing for the Celtics, his last team. When he finished his NBA career, he returned to Detroit to be with them and look for a new career.
Attacking life’s struggles
In an interview with the Free Press last week, Bing said that his book provides encouragement to those in the Black community struggling with the highs and lows he faced in his life.
His advice: If hard work is put in, along with respecting others and telling the truth, success will come.
“It lets Black folks know that No. 1, we can’t use our Blackness as an excuse for failure,” Bing said. “We need to prepare ourselves from an academic standpoint so that we can go to the highest level that we can achieve. … If I did this with the obstacles that I was confronted with, I want people to know that they can do it also. It’s hard, but it can be done.”
In the book, Bing covers:
- His childhood and the obstacles he faced, including that injury that led to him being blind in his left eyeball.
- His years at Syracuse University playing basketball and the birth of his first child.
- Being drafted into the NBA, playing for the Detroit Pistons, Washington Bullets (now Wizards) and Boston Celtics.
- Entering the automotive industry, opening Bing Steel and bringing jobs to Detroiters.
- Closing Bing Steel and becoming the mayor of Detroit during a difficult time.
- Founding the nonprofit Bing Youth Institute, a mentorship program for young African American boys.
Bing was drafted by the Detroit Pistons second overall in 1966. He played for the team nine seasons. He then returned to his hometown after being traded to Washington in the 1975-76 season. Before retiring from the sport, he played one season with the Boston Celtics, ending his career after the 1977-78 season.
Back to Detroit
Following his NBA career, Bing returned to Detroit and wanted to become an entrepreneur. His first company was Bing Steel, founded in1980, to prepare steel for use in the auto industry. The company brought jobs to Detroiters for almost 30 years.
Bing was first elected mayor of Detroit in November 2009 after the position became vacant following Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s resignation. He served until November 2013.
Since then, he has worked with the Bing Youth Institute.
With all these moments to reflect on, the idea to write the book came from Bob Warfield, who is Bing’s manager. After searching for writers and working with author LoCicero, the book was finished by September.
“It was interesting because it made me go back and think all the way back to my childhood and that’s a long time ago,” Bing said. “There were things that was asked of me by the writer that I really had to go back into my memory bank.”
Lessons from basketball
He carried what he learned playing the sport beyond the court.
“To me, beyond basketball, attacking the rim came to mean driving to achieve and pursuing success in a variety of endeavors. And having a bounce in your step also meant having confidence, energy, optimism, and a bright way of meeting obstacles and challenges. It suggests the ability to pick yourself up after life knocks you down, to keep your eye on the rim and continue attacking and moving forward.”
Now, he’s giving back by helping the next generation through mentorship. The Bing Youth Institute and BINGO mentoring program, which has served four graduating classes of young Black boys in Detroit, has a 100% high school graduation rate for those who started the program in high school; 85% of them are in college.
“We’re not educators, but we are strict that you’ve got to go to school, you got to be on time, you got to get your grades, because if you don’t, you can’t stay in the program,” Bing said. “It’s about graduating. It’s about getting the fundamentals of education that will help you later in life.”
After someone reaches a successful point in life, Bing said, it’s important to give back. He has been able to pay it forward in many ways, and recommends that others do the same.
“There’s still so many of us out here that need help,” he said. “And for those of us who succeed in life, we’ve got to be able to reach back. Take those excuses away, but be a support system for those that are coming up behind us. That’s my story.”