Bing has been giving back to Detroit for 50 years

It seems like everything Dave Bing did was quiet.

He is soft-spoken and mild-mannered, but he has let his actions speak louder than his words, whether that be as mayor of Detroit or on the basketball court or even raising money for athletic programs in Detroit Public Schools.

Fifty years ago this week, Bing made NBA history. The Detroit Pistons guard finished the 1967-68 regular season with 27.1 points per game. He led the league in scoring, becoming the first guard to lead the NBA in scoring in 20 years.

But it was, like anything Bing did, a quiet accomplishment. This was after all, the quiet Bing that Sport Magazine once called “Mr. Unsung-About.” It is a fitting nickname for someone so good on the court but so quiet away from it.

Bing played nine seasons with the Pistons, before finishing his career with two as a member of the Washington Bullets and another on the Boston Celtics.

He was a sharp-shooting guard that was often overshadowed by guard of his day that included superstars like Oscar Robertson, Walt Frazier and Jerry West. West is the silhouette on the NBA logo, Robertson was Mr. triple-double and Frazier was one of the flashiest superstars the NBA has ever seen.

Where is a quiet Bing to fit in? He held is own, but didn’t get the same headlines as the other superstars.

But his career totals were extremely impressive. He averaged 20.3 points per game in 12 seasons, finishing with 18.327 points for his career. Bing won the Rookie of the Year in 1966-67 and was an All-NBA First Team performer twice and a second-team performer once, playing in seven All-Star Games. He was named one of the NBA’s top 50 players of all time when the league unveiled the group during the 50th anniversary of the NBA. He was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1990.

It was quite a rise to prominence for someone who grew up in poverty in Washington D.C., where he and his siblings slept two to a bed, according to several interviews with Bing. His father was a bricklayer who was injured when a brick fell four stories and hit his head, creating a blood clot in the brain.

Watching his father go through that was enough to motivate Bing to find something that could get him out of the rough neighborhood and moving toward a better life.

His career was almost over years before it could ever get started. While carrying a stick with a nail in it at age five, he tripped and the nail stabbed his left eye. He underwent surgery to save his eye but he would suffer blurry vision throughout his life. Later in his career, he got poked in the right eye during an NBA game in 1971-72, which gave him some retinal damage.

But Bing quietly overcame that and overcame being one of the small kids on the playground. He grew into a solid player and accepted a scholarship at Syracuse.

While with the Orangemen, Bing averaged 24.6 points per game and was named an All-American as a senior. His play was so elite that the Pistons drafted him with the second overall pick in 1966 after Michigan star Cazzie Russell.

A Rookie of the Year — and Hall of Fame career — followed.

But after his career, Bing wasn’t finished doing big things. He started a steel business that became extremely profitable and started to give back mainly in Detroit. When the Detroit Public Schools thought they would have to cancel athletics because of lack of funds, he donated $373,000 to the schools to save the programs. The Detroit taxpayers actually approved a millage for the schools that paid for the programs, but Bing gave them the money anyway.

Bing would go on to become mayor of Detroit helping fuel the downtown turnaround.

He was an amazing player, leader, philanthropist and role model — but it all started 50 years ago when his star began to rise in the NBA.