Zero degrees. Blowing snow. Can't walk to Denny's across the street. Why am I here? The day began at 9 a.m. in the Detroit office of Dave Bing, one of the most prolific point guards in NBA history. He is a native of Washington, D.C. where he grew up with singer Marvin Gaye. After starring for the Detroit Pistons, Bing has lived in Detroit for the past 42 years. He is running for Mayor of Detroit in a Feb, 24 primary.
Some Detroiters think that for the city to move forward, the city has to move away from the auto industry.
NBA Hall of Famer Dave Bing doesn't buy into that.
"Our core still is automotive and it will be automotive," Bing said during a half-hour interview in his office in Midtown Detroit. Of course, in 1980 Bing founded The Bing Group, which supplies automotive parts to the 'Big Three' car companies......
......"When you look at the amount of engineers we have in the auto industry from a tri-county area, no other city compares with us," Bing said. "Michigan colleges are more inclined to be engineering and automotive. Nobody can compete with those eight to 10 schools. Do we have to change and look at another industry? Absouletly. But we cannot forget the automotive industry. Even today it represents one out of every 10 jobs in the country, because so many other industries are dependent on the automotive industry. Steel. Glass. Plastic.
"I know we're not going to do the heavy manufacturing that was done in the Midwest the last 30, 40 years. A lot of that is going south. And even further south into Mexico."
Bing thinks the President-elect's love of basketball will translate on a global stage.
"It brought us together," he said, "In college I met Bill Bradley. I was a sophomore, he was a junior. We played in a tournament in Miami. There were four teams and four All-Americans. I was at Syracuse. Bradley was at Princeton. Rick Barry was at the University of Miami. And Mike Silliiman was at West Point (and went on to win a Gold Medal in the '68 Summer Olympics). Syracuse won the tournament, which was unheard of at that time.
" I became friendly with Bill. He came down that summer to Washington to work in the White House. He wanted to play ball so I took him to the playground. THE PLAYGROUND, back where I started. And he held his own. We're friendly today. As a matter of fact, I had a fund raiser for Bill at my home here when he ran for president."
Just like Lakers-Bulls coach Phil Jackson, Bing was an avid reader when he played pro ball. I asked about his favorite book. He did not hesitate with an answer:
"Shogun," James Clavell's epic book about 16th Century exploration of the Orient.
"It was an introduction to another culture and I read it more than one time," Bing said. "Its 1,400 pages. I was in my mid-20s when I first read it. I would be reading on the plane, in the hotel on the bus. Never in the locker room. I learned a lot from reading, from a vocabulary standpoint: trying to comprehend how a word is being used in a particular sentence. Today I read (business author) James Patterson. I also have a soft side, but I won't tell you that. There's the love books and the family stuff."
Bing will not be traveling to his hometown for the inauguration.
"I have work to do here," he said. "Actually this is one of the first years I'm not going to the NBA All-Star game. I've got work to do. I've done the all-star game for a long period of time and its changed. Its so Hollywood and I don't enjoy that."