by Lang Whitaker

We begin today with some sad news: Mr. Pingping is dead.

pingphoneYou may ask yourself, Who is this Mr. Pingping? it’s more rhetorical than you may realize. If only we knew who this little fella really was.

I was only familiar with Mr. Pingping for three short — really short — years. We discovered Mr. Pingping here on The Links in the summer of 2007, when I wrote a post one day and kind of threw in a link to a story about the world’s tallest and shortest man meeting. The world’s shortest man was the recently recognized He Pingping, and the AP story about their meeting referred to him as Mr. Pingping, which just sounded awesome. After I found that initial link, everyone here at the office went crazy talking about that story, so I wrote another post a day later, and then another a few days later. Mr. Pingping became to The Links what people on the internet today would call a “meme,” basically a running topic of conversation. And when news of his tragic death broke yesterday, I received about 20 emails from you guys over the last 12 hours.

Mr. Pingping’s death is a tragedy, yes, but we never really knew him anyway. Sure we saw videos and a succession of amusing photos, but I was hoping that being recognized as the world’s smallest man would make Mr. Pingping a worldwide star. He could have become a popular rapper, run the point in the D-League or starred on reality television. But instead, fame seemed to snuff out his li’l light.

Did He Pingping? Oh yes, yes He did.

I’ll close this with one last photo of Mr. Pingping. Life-size, even:

hepingping

(OK, it’s not really life-size. Or is it?)

• Oh, hey, I don’t think I mentioned it here, but last weekend I finished writing my book. It’s about the Braves and Bobby Cox and me, and I hope very much that you — yes you! — will buy a copy when it comes out. When writing it, I was very conscious of trying to balance it between being heavy on baseball and being heavy on funny/interesting stories about life. Then I let Wifey read the first chapter, and she hates baseball, but she liked all the Greg Maddux stuff I wrote more than the stuff I wrote about myself. So I’m not sure what that means.

Anyway, the manuscript I turned in is by far the longest thing I’ve ever written, roughly the length of 40 SLAM cover stories. I’m used to writing SLAM cover stories, and I’ve gotten relatively good at organization information to fit that specific allotment of space. But writing a book was like wrestling a grizzly bear or maybe trying to fit Eddy Curry into Nate Robinson’s old uniform. Somehow, I think I pulled it off.

Though I broke my couch in the process. Seriously. I have an “office” in our apartment, where I have a desk and a desktop computer and all that, and the plan was that I would write there, as if that space would create some discipline or inspiration. It didn’t, though. So I ended up writing the entire thing sitting in the same spot on the couch where I’ve written pretty much everything I’ve done for SLAM over the last five years, since we got that couch, and using the same laptop computer I’ve had forever. And now the couch has a dent in it.

So the good news is that’s off my plate. The bad news is I feel like I need a vacation. I can’t really express how much I was looking forward to having last weekend off to do nothing, the first weekend off in as long as I can remember. And then I ended up right there in that same spot on the couch all weekend writing the cover story for the next issue of SLAM (which we’re finishing up as I type this).

Yeah. Anyway, all of that to say hopefully I can find somewhere to recharge my batteries, and then I’ll be popping in around here a little more often as we head toward the Playoffs.

• One other quick link today: NBA.com is launching a podcast with my dudes Sekou Smith and Vince Thomas co-hosting, and they had Dennis Scott and myself on yesterday for their first show. (Here’s a direct link to the audio file.)

Hopefully they will have me on the show again once they figure out how to have people on the phone without sounding like they’re being autotuned.