If you missed it, check out the outstanding piece by Mike Rosenberg in SI this week on former Piston and current Detroit mayor Dave Bing. Yes, there is tie to Michigan athletics with a portion touching on Bing’s relationship with Jalen, an excerpt:
The Pistons roomed Jimmy and Dave together on the road, hoping Dave could reel him in a little, but that was like trying to net a pack of butterflies. Walker was traded to Houston in August 1972; five months later Jalen Anthony Rose was born in Detroit. Jimmy was Jalen’s biological father. Jimmy was a lot of kids’ biological father. "I hear that number is in the teens," Rose says.
Jalen’s mother, Jeanne Rose, was a key puncher for Chrysler. His father was invisible; Jalen never saw him. But his father’s backcourtmate was around. Bing kept tabs on the kid, taught him what he could. "Like a godfather," Rose says. For years they talked about everything but Jimmy. "That was not something we heavily stressed," Rose says. "Or discussed. Or even acknowledged."
Rose went on to be a star at Southwestern High. Jimmy was never there, but he was always with him. Rose chose number 42 because it was the reverse of the 24 that Jimmy wore with the Pistons. Jalen wanted to play like his father and get famous enough to let Jimmy know who he was.
When Jalen reached high school, Bing gave him a job working on a steel press and moving cargo; and it came with the same warning everybody else got: Do your work or I’ll fire you. Jalen learned, "When the lunch truck pulls up, there is no taking cuts because you got a good jumper."
Ask him if he was ever angry at Jimmy for ditching the boy, and Bing says, "If you knew Jimmy, you couldn’t be angry." He says that Jimmy was "beautiful" and that he loved him. Bing never said a bad word about Jimmy to Jalen, and it is impossible to know exactly what effect that had on the boy. But eventually Jalen picked up the phone and called Jimmy. Jalen was not bitter anymore. He was ready to meet his father.
It never happened. Jimmy, who spent most of his post-NBA days bouncing around from city to city, died of cancer in the summer of 2007. Rose, who had just retired after a 13-year NBA career, went to the funeral in Kansas City. There were only a few dozen people there. A few were Jimmy’s kids—at least, biologically. Jalen sat with siblings he’d never known as they mourned a father they’d never had. Jalen was stunned. Dave Bing was there to console him.