Paul Sancya / AP file
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing at a news conference July 18 in Detroit.
Dave Bing went there.
The Detroit mayor, understandably annoyed at Boston Mayor Tom Menino's comments over the weekend that he would "blow up" Bing's bankrupt city "and start all over," responded Tuesday in a style the Pistons' Bad Boys of the 1980s would have admired: with a sucker punch.
"It is extremely regrettable that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino used such an unfortunate choice of words to describe what he would do if he came to Detroit," Bing said in a statement posted Tuesday on both Twitter and Facebook, adding:
"I would think the mayor of a city that recently experienced a deadly bombing attack would be more sensitive and not use the phrase 'blow up.'"
Oh, yes, he did. Bing played the Boston Marathon bombing card.
A spokeswoman for Menino said late Tuesday afternoon: "The mayor is sorry that people have taken offense."
The tone of Bing's statement was decidedly out of tune with Menino's joking remark in The New York Times Magazine this weekend. Asked, "If you could live in any other major U.S. city other than Boston, where would you live?" Menino replied:
"I never thought of living anyplace else but Boston. Baltimore's a nice little city. Detroit is a place I'd love to go."
"I'd blow up the place and start all over. No, seriously, when it takes a police officer 90 minutes to answer a call, there's something wrong with the system. Forty percent of the streetlights are out, most of the buildings are boarded up. Why? Inaction, that's the problem — leadership."
Menino didn't reckon with Bing's competitiveness. A high-scoring guard in the NBA, Bing spent most of his basketball career with the Detroit Pistons, ending up on seven All-Star teams and spots in both the National Basketball Hall of Fame and the NBA's pantheon of the 50 greatest players of all time.
Bing — who, in a bit of irony, ended his playing career in 1978 after a single season with the Boston Celtics — didn't stop there, saying he was "dismayed" that Menino "did not get his facts right."
"The Detroit Police Department's response time is not — and has never been — 90 minutes. And most of our city’s buildings are not boarded up."
Bing has a history of strong reactions to slights from fellow mayors.
In April, when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg promoted his city's progress on crime by comparing murder rates with Detroit — "If we had had Detroit's murder rate, more than 4,500 New Yorkers would have been murdered last year instead of 419" — Bing called his statements "sad and inappropriate."