Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim hasn’t been nervous in a long time.
But in the hours leading up to Boeheim’s 900th career win as a head coach, he walked into the locker room, and sitting there was his teammate in his playing days, Dave Bing.
“That was the only thing that made me nervous,” Boeheim said. “I had a chance to talk to him before the game for awhile and I talked to somebody who’s got more problems then I have.”
Bing watched as Syracuse nearly blew a 22-point lead to Detroit, where Bing is currently the mayor. But the Orange hung on for a 72-68 win, which brought a smile to Bing’s face.
“I’m proud of him because he stuck with it,” Bing said. “He’s proven that he’s one of the best coaches ever in college basketball to get 900 (wins).”
Bing is widely regarded as the best player in Syracuse basketball history. After a prolific career on The Hill where he averaged 24.8 points per game, Bing was selected with the No. 2 overall pick of the 1966 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons.
He would play 12 years in the NBA, mostly with the Pistons, and averaged 20.3 points and six assists per game. In 1990, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and was also named one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players.
“Syracuse basketball is what it is because of Dave Bing,” Boeheim said.
Bing said what makes Boeheim remarkable is that his 900 wins have all come at one school. The feat is not likely to be replicated ever again because of constant coaching changes and the ever-changing college basketball landscape with conference realignment.
“This is history and he’s part of it,” Bing said. “Syracuse as a city, upstate New York and the University is lucky to have had someone of this caliber not only has he won games, he’s developed a lot of young men. I know a lot of guys who have came under Jim who have gone on to do very well for themselves and they attribute that to his teaching.”
Boeheim and Bing were roommates at Syracuse during their playing days and frequently spoke about what they would do after they graduated. Neither Bing or Boeheim ever pictured what happened on Monday night.
“But here we are,” Bing said.
900 wins later.