Upon his retirement from professional basketball, Bing founded Bing Steel, a processing company that earned him the National Minority Small Business Person of the Year award in 1984. Soon the business grew into the multi-million dollar Detroit-based conglomerate, the Bing Group, one of the largest steel companies in Michigan.
A Democrat, Bing entered Detroit politics in 2008, announcing his intentions to run for mayor in the city's non-partisan primary to finish the term of Kwame Kilpatrick, who had resigned amid a corruption scandal. After winning the primary, Bing then defeated interim Mayor Kenneth Cockrel, Jr., and was sworn in as mayor in May 2009. Later that year, Bing was re-elected to a full term. Faced with losing most of his power to Detroit's emergency manager Kevyn Orr, health problems, and an approval rating that dipped as low as 14%, Bing decided not to seek re-election at the end of his term. He was succeeded by politician and businessman Mike Duggan after the mayoral election held in 2013.
Bing was born November 24, 1943 in Washington, D.C., to mother Juanita, a housekeeper, and father Hasker, a bricklayer and deacon for the Baptist Church. He was the second child of four living in a two bedroom, one-story house in the northeast part of town. In his childhood, Bing received the nickname "Duke" from his father, because, according to Bing, he always "wanted to be top dog." He suffered a traumatic eye injury at age five, when, while playing with an improvised hobby horse he constructed with two sticks nailed together, Bing tripped and accidentally poked his left eye with a rusty nail. The family could not afford emergency surgery, leaving the eye to heal on its own and diminishing his vision thereafter. Bing's father also suffered a severe head injury during the boy's childhood. While working a construction site, a brick fell four stories onto his head, causing a brain clot. The episode led young Bing to promise himself that he would never work in such a profession.
In athletics, Bing played basketball, but older children often told him he was too small for the game. However, he played well, triumphing over such older and bigger children as future Motown musician Marvin Gaye, who, after not performing well on the court, chose to sing on the sidelines. Bing and Gaye forged a friendship, which continued later in life. Despite his basketball play, Bing, a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers and Jackie Robinson, focused primarily on baseball, the neighborhood's preferred game.
Despite his fuzzy vision, he excelled in baseball at Spingarn High School, where he enrolled in 1958. Nevertheless, the school's head basketball coach William Roundtree encouraged him to revisit basketball. Roundtree became a fatherly figure to Bing, who decided to join the team. He developed into a double-digits per game scorer, noted for his jump shot and knack for driving to the basket. He continued also to compete in baseball into his senior year, but was forced to choose between it and basketball when a scheduling conflict between two tournaments arose. Though he felt he was better at baseball, Bing opted for basketball, believing it gave him a greater chance at a full-ride college scholarship, well aware of the path taken by Los Angeles Lakers forward Elgin Baylor, a Spingarn alum. At the tournament, Bing led his team to victory and earned MVP honors. All in all, in high school, Bing was a three-year letter winner, all–Inter High, all-Metro, and all-East member. In 1962, he was featured in Parade magazine and made the All-American Team.
Bing attended Syracuse University, where he was once roommates with Jim Boeheim. He led the Orangemen in scoring as a sophomore (22.2) in 1964, as a junior (23.2) in 1965, and as a senior (28.4) in 1966. During his senior year, Bing was fifth in the nation in scoring and was Syracuse's first consensus All-American in 39 years. He was also named to The Sporting News All-America First Team and was named Syracuse Athlete of the Year.
Bing's playing style was somewhat unusual for the time. As a lean, athletic and explosive guard, he functioned as the playmaker distributing the ball, but also did more shooting and scoring than most others who had this position. At one time a joke about him and his backcourt partner, Jimmy Walker, was that it was a shame they could only play the game with one ball at a time.
In 1966, Bing joined the NBA as a second overall first-round pick of the Detroit Pistons, where in his rookie year he scored 1,601 points (20.0 points per game) and was named the NBA Rookie of the Year. The next year, he led the NBA in scoring with 2,142 points (27.1 points per game) in 1968. Bing sat out 2½ months of the 1971-72 season due to a detached retina incurred from a preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers, playing in only 45 games that season. While with the Pistons, he played in six NBA All-Star Games (1968, 1969, 1971–1975), and was named to the All-NBA First Team twice in 1968 and 1969.
After leaving the Detroit Pistons, Bing went on to spend his next two seasons with the Washington Bullets, for whom he was named an NBA All-Star once more in 1976, this time winning the game's MVP Award.
At age 22 with an NBA contract worth $15,000, Bing was rebuffed by the National Bank of Detroit on getting a mortgage to finance a home. This led Bing to work at the bank during the offseason, holding jobs in the teller, customer relations, and mortgage departments.
Immediately after retiring, he worked at a warehouse of the steel processing company Paragon Steel and was paid $35,000. He left after two years, after stints in the company's shipping and sales operations.
In 1980, Bing opened Bing Steel with four employees in a rented warehouse from $250,000 in loans and $80,000 of his own money. Losing all his money in six months, the company shied away from manufacturing to focus on being a middleman. With General Motors as their first major client, the company turned a profit in its second year on revenues of $4.2 million. By 1984, Bing was awarded by President Ronald Reagan the National Minority Small Business Person Of The Year. By 1985, Bing Steel had expanded to two plants with 63 employees posting revenues of $40 million.
Bing Steel would transform itself to the Bing Group, a conglomerate with headquarters located in Detroit's North End. The company, among other things, supplies metal stampings to the automobile industry.
On October 16, 2008, Bing announced that he would be a candidate for the mayor of Detroit in the February 2009 primary election (Detroit mayoral election, 2009). He finished first in a 15 candidate non-partisan primary on February 24, 2009. On May 5, 2009, the top two vote-getters faced off and he defeated interim Mayor Kenneth Cockrel, Jr. and was elected to complete former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's term, which ended December 31, 2009. Kilpatrick had resigned as part of a plea bargain agreement after being charged with the crime of perjury.
Bing was re-elected to a full term on November 3, 2009. He announced on May 14, 2013, he would not run for re-election. During his term as mayor of Detroit, the city became the largest city in U.S. History to declare bankruptcy.