14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2012
I positively loved this bio of NBA great Dave Bing. The book covers everything you could ever want to know about Bing from his playing days at Syracuse and with the Pistons to his founding Bing Steel and taking on the challenge of running the city of Detroit as its mayor. Detroit Free Press columnist Drew Sharp casts Bing's life in sharp detail with this riveting read.
Bing was a supremely talented NBA player who helped usher in the era of the shooting guard as scoring threat. But he was also a maverick who repeatedly sought excellence when confronted with challenge. He serves as an inspirational role model for those seeking success both on and off the court. Recommended!
"Dave is the perfect example of professionalism, class, dignity, and humanity. He cares. He gets involved with the world." - Oscar Robertson
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2012
The original appeal of this book was Bing's position as Mayor of one of the most dysfunctional and financially challenged cities in the US, Detroit, and the question of why an ex-NBA star and successful businessman would take on such a huge, and probably thankless task. While I'm still not sure yet that I can truly understand Bing's decision to take on Detroit's problems, reading his bio gives me a healthy appreciatation for Bing's drive, determination and capabilities.
At about 300 pages the book is a fast, accessible read. It lightly covers Dave Bing's early life, and provides more extensive coverage of his years in basketball (Syacuse, Pistons, Bullets, Celtics), business, and his move into Detroit politics (ouch).
One of the appealing aspects of the Bing storey is the other folks that appear in his life and therefore the book. Bing was a friend of Bill Bradley (US Senator), was a college roommate of current Syacuse coach Jim Boeheim (once took him home to DC for the summer), counted Lion's greats Lem Barney and Mel Farr in his circle of friends...you get the idea.
If you are interested in Detroit, basketball, or people that have successfully faced challenging circumstances, this is a fine pick.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I grew in Central New York, so of course the name Dave Bing is a familiar one to me. He played basketball for the Syracuse Orangemen, well before they were the powerhouse team they are now. He put SU basketball on the map, and then went on to be drafted by the Detroit Pistons, where he helped to build an NBA team.
Drew Sharp has written Dave Bing- A Life of Challenge, the definitive book on Mr. Bing, who went on to found a multimillion dollar company, Bing Steel, and to become mayor of Detroit during its most challenging time.
Bing is a fascinating man. He grew up in Washington DC and credits his father Hasker with giving him the morals and work ethic, the tools he needed to succeed not only in basketball, but more importantly, in life.
Bing wasn't the most talented basketball player, but he made up for that in brains and his capacity for sizing up a situation and figuring out how to make the most of his opportunities and talents. He committed to Syracuse University for college, a school where there weren't many black students, but the fact that Ernie Davis played football there and was the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy weighed in SU's favor.
While I read this book because of the SU connection, and I found that section of the book very interesting (especially with the quotes from legendary SU basketball coach Jim Boeheim, a former teammate and still a good friend), as well as his spectacular NBA career with the Pistons (where he was named one of the 50 best NBA players of all time), it is his post-basketball career that ends up being the most impressive.
Bing knew that a basketball career wasn't forever, so he strategized as to what he would do when basketball was over. During the off-season, he worked as a bank teller and learned the business, just like he did with basketball.
Detroit was Motor City, and the car business was king. Bing figured that car manufacturers needed steel, so he gathered investors and began his own steel company, Bing Steel. Over the years he grew Bing Steel to be a $350 million company, and he became one of the most visible and successful black business owners in the country. A highlight for him was meeting President Reagan as he was honored for his success as a minority businessman.
The recent recession hit Detroit very hard, and along with a corruption scandal that undid mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, the city was in big trouble. Their finances were decimated, their infrastructure was crumbling, homes were abandoned, and people were fleeing the city. People turned to Dave Bing for help.
Bing was talked into running for mayor, a huge challenge for anyone, let alone someone who had never been involved in politics. Sharp tells an amazing story here, and this is the strongest section of the book. I was riveted by it, and the book became not only Bing's story, but the story of a once-proud All-American city that was coming undone.
Personal health issues, problems with the unions, a possible takeover of the city's finances by the state of Michigan, and a political scandal of his own created the biggest challenge of Bing's life. Could he turn it around and be successful one more time, when it was most critical for his adopted city?
Sharp shows Bing's successes and failures, his strengths and weaknesses, and we see the personal side of him as well as the professional. Dave Bing- A Life of Challenge brilliantly profiles one of the most interesting American men of the past 50 years, a man who lived up to his father's high standards and made the world around him a better place.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2013
Interesting man. I wish the book was easier to read. And I can't exactly say why I dreaded picking it up to keep reading. I'm 2 chapters from finishing--and I plan on finishing.
I enjoyed the basketball section of the book most.
There isn't much regarding his growing up time and relations with siblings. Nor is there much about his own family.
For a biography, there were parts that seemed to jump around. Not a smooth read.
One disappointment was the opening lines of the book. The first paragraph has the F-bomb a couple of times. Call me old-fashioned, but I'd rather read things that stimulate my mind, not go straight to shocking. That being said, it wasn't the rule of the book. And to give credit where it's due, it was a quote. But it seemed to me to be added for shock value. Bing seems to deserve better.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2014
A fascinating story murdered by poor writing (note that most of the editorial reviews also
mention Bing as an interesting person for study but do not comment on the quality of the narrative).
Thus, the one-star is for the quality of the writing. However, the author seems to have done
a fair amount of research, so if you're willing to hold your nose and get past the writing, you'll probably learn something new. It would be great if another author would pick up this topic.
on December 23, 2014
I have read many of Drew Sharp's op-ed pieces for the Detroit Free Press, and always came away unimpressed with his third grade level of writing.
I decided to pick this book up, not because of my desire to read Drew's writing but more because of my interest in Detroit politics, from the days of Coleman Young, Archer, Kwame and now Bing. This book was very difficult to understand, and there was not much in it that was not already known. It really did not add anything to the discussion of Dave Bing and his life, and I did not find it a worthwhile read.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 30, 2013
Interesting subject but poorly written book. Hopefully another author who can actually write will pick up on this topic and write a book that is not so difficult to read. If memory serves correct, the author is a hack journalist from Detroit who tries to gain readership by trashing local Detroit sports teams in his columns. Dave Bing deserves better than this.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2014
I met he and his wife at the Syracuse Duke game. They needed a ride to their hotel and my brother-in-law and I drove them there. During the drive we talked about how he picked Syracuse, his rooming with Boeheim his freshman year. Our 15 minute conversation peeked my interest in his history and I googled to find more about him and discovered this book. I immediately downloaded it to my kindle and read it on the way back to Oregon.
This is a fascinating read that covers not only his basketball history but also the his success in the business world and his struggles in the world of politics. I would call this an inspiring book, this man was always thinking one step ahead. He used basketball as merely steps toward his goal of being successful in the business world and his personal life. Notice the cover, not Dave Bing top 50 all time NBA player, he is dressed in a white shirt, vest and tie.
Highly recommended. I'd love to talk to him again now that I know more about him.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2013
This book reviews the life of Dave Bing, the NBA all-star, self-made millionaire businessman, and ultimately Mayor of Detroit. It traces his rise to prominence from a segregated working-class neighborhood in Washington, DC, through college success at Syracuse University and a professional basketball career with the Detroit Pistons , followed by outstanding success in a business career, and a challenging term as Mayor of a severely distressed city.
The content of this man's life is remarkable; the telling of his story in this book--not so much. The author, a newspaper reporter and columnist, has a dense, hard-to-follow style. Chapters in the book leap back and forth from the 1960's to the 2010's. They often read like op-ed pieces or newspaper columns. The author spends four pages near the beginning of the book discussing the Bernie Fine scandal at SU--which really has little connection with Dave Bing's story. This smacks of sensationalism more than anything else. He whips through Bing's all-star career at SU in a few pages and the details of his professional playing career are spread scattershot throughout the book, as are those of his business and political career.
Dave Bing's life is a wonderful and inspiring story, but it is not related very well here.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2013
Very little was written about his early family, little about his married life, a lot of repetition about his basketball successes and not enough about his current time as mayor were my criticisms, but I liked the way Sharp handled both his positive and negative assessments of Bing's accomplishments. It was great to hear about the mayor's moral stance, which seems like such a contrast to Killpatrick's.