Dishing Dave Dazzles Defenses

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Dave Bing was an unassuming player. He did not believe that his ability to play was of the caliber of other high profile players selected by high profile schools although he was recruited by those schools. His talent was recognized by the coaching staffs, and they were disappointed when he chose to attend Syracuse, a lower profile school. He reasoned that he would be able to make a name for himself there. He worked hard to overcome adversity and honed marketable skills to detract from his deficiencies.

In 1966, his hard work paid off. Dave Bing was drafted by the Detroit Pistons as their first pick and the second overall draft pick. He spent nine years of his twelve-year career wearing the Pistons uniform. His first year with the Pistons acquired national attention. He was named NBA Rookie of the Year. The 1966-67 season consisted of 80 games. Dave Bing made his presence known in the paint. He had a knack for retrieving errant shots and came away with an average of 4.5 rebounds per game. His unselfish play also merited attention. He had a penchant for passing the ball to his teammates, and he was credited with an average of 4.1 assists per game. His scoring ability did not go unnoticed. He averaged 20 points per game. Dave Bing was a terrific marksman.

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Dave Bing experienced two major eye injuries. The first injury happened while he was a child. He fell onto a nail while playing. This injured his left eye. After surgical repair, he did not recover full vision to this eye. This made his shooting ability that much more remarkable. During the 1967-68 season, Bing was honored as the Scoring Leader. He was also selected for the All-NBA First Team at that time.

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The second injury came during adulthood while playing in a basketball game. Los Angeles Laker, Happy Hairston’s finger accidentally stabbed Bing’s right eye at the beginning of the 1971-72 season. He ignored the severe pain for a few days, but eventually had to be admitted to the hospital under emergency circumstances. The injury detached his retina. After emergency surgical treatment, Bing returned to the basketball court. He was concerned enough about his impaired vision that he began working harder on other aspects of his game. He knew that his more limited vision hampered his ability to score so he determined to make himself indispensable in other areas.

Dave Bing’s work ethic was evident as he toiled to improve his offensive skills and develop his defensive proficiency. His free throw shooting improved because he spent countless hours launching shots from the free throw line during practice. Bing’s athleticism before the accident had been dazzling, but afterward, he cranked his game up several notches through grit and determination. On the offensive end of the court, he consistently averaged more than 7 assists per game after his injury. On the defensive end of the court, he made improvements in his game as well. He had not been known for his shot blocking ability until the 1973-74 season. He averaged less than one per game, but it was considerably more than he had accomplished prior to the injury. He began averaging at least one steal per game due to his tenaciousness on defense.

Dave Bing had been an outstanding playmaker, as well as dependable for scoring an average of 27 points per game. Bing’s on the court philosophy was to draw a defensive crowd and then pass the ball in mid-air to an open teammate. Because he was a good shooter, the opposing teams indulged him by providing him with heavy defensive coverage in which he could lure the defenders away from his open teammates. Sufficiently surrounded, he would spot an open man, deliver the ball to them, and set them up for an easy bucket. He averaged six assists per game. Bob Lanier was one of his favorite targets.

Dave Bing was a leader both on and off the court. He was selected team captain, but the title only acknowledged his efforts. Otto Moore observed, “If things go wrong, Dave keeps you from putting your head down. He can run, dribble, shoot, do everything. If he played 48 minutes, he’d lead the league in scoring.”

At the end of the1970-71 season, Dave Bing had collected a total of 2,213 points. He averaged a record high 27.0 points per game. Dave Bing’s career highlights included seven trips to the All Star Games. After nine seasons without an NBA championship, Bing requested to be traded so that he could move back to his hometown of Washington. In 1976, he was honored as the Most Valuable Player while wearing the Washington Bullet uniform.  The Washington Bullets kept Bing on the roster for two seasons before releasing him. Bing left Washington and donned the green and white uniform of the Boston Celtics. He played there for only one season.  He played at the guard position for the Celtics and averaged 13.6 points per game.

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