Out with horndog high school football star Kwame Kilpatrick, in with thoughtful NBA All Star Dave Bing? Sounds like a good bench substitution to me.
Next week the Hall-of-Famer will announce his intention to run for mayor of Detroit. "I've made my decision," Bing told columnist Rochelle Riley in a Detroit Free Press exclusive. "It's time for someone with a fresh outlook to lead the city."
This kickass news would bring me to tears, if I had any left.
HELP WANTED: Mayor of Detroit -- Must Have A Clue
A half dozen others may make a run for the position vacated last week by Kilpatrick, who's leaving to enjoy a respite from his unique brand of mayoral zaniness by spending quality time in jail. All of us who loved reading his risque text messages are praying Kilpatrick will remember to bring his BlackBerry with him to the slammer.
"It's going to be a tough situation for anybody to manage through," Bing said in reference to Kilpatrick's embarrassing mayoral mess. Detroit also faces a budget deficit, labor contracts that expired last June, and FBI investigations into City Council shenanigans.
QUALIFICATIONS: Looking For Candidate Willing To Take One For The Team
Bing came to Detroit from Washington, D.C., as a first-round pick of the Pistons in 1966. He was named NBA Rookie of the Year, averaging 20 points a game as a guard. During his sophomore year, Bing led the league in scoring with 2,142 points -- a shocker that marked the emergence of the shooting guard as an NBA threat. Bing served as captain of the Detroit Pistons from 1966 to 1975.
"Mr. Piston" chose to build his life after basketball in the Motor City, using his savings to start The Bing Group, which supplies parts to U.S. automakers. Bing made it a priority to employ inner-city residents and restore urban communities. The popular businessman is credited with spearheading Kilpatrick's Next Detroit neighborhood initiative that selected six neighborhoods for beautification, economic renewal, and reduction of crime. And when the Detroit public school system was going to cancel team sports, he initiated fundraising efforts to bring the programs back to life.
Alas, comedy lovers, Bing will never be as amusing as the Hip-Hop Mayor who, for instance, tried to sell America's half of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel to Canada until....whoops!....his ankle tether alerted U.S. authorities that Kilpatrick had driven to Windsor illegally.
Now more than ever, Detroit needs a mayor with a clue.
Of course there's no guarantee Bing will win, considering what Detroit Free Press columnist Drew Sharp calls "Detroit's nearsighted propensity for questioning the authenticity of one's blackness because you dress conservatively, dare to speak grammatically correct, or seek suburban allies in helping remedy the city's ills."
But we'll find out soon enough.
Welcome to politics, Dave. Better late than never.
* * * *
Update: On May 5, 2009, Detroiters elected Dave Bing to serve out Kilpatrick's term. "You have voted for change," Bing said to the hundreds of supporters who greeted him Tuesday night after his victory. "We will start immediately and try to attract jobs back into the city of Detroit. We will start immediately in trying to make sure our neighborhoods are safe."
Follow Diane Tucker on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dianetucker