Exactly one year ago Friday, Michael Jackson died.
The world expressed grief, but few did so with the sincerity and passion of Lakers forward Ron Artest. He wears "37" on his jersey to commemorate the number of consecutive weeks that "Thriller" spent atop the Billboard charts, but "Michael Michael," a song Artest wrote in honor Jackson, truly expressed how he felt.
"That was something that just came from the heart," Artest said.
Artest said he "cried for Mike." He also, literally, cried for Mike. But of all the lines in this emotional opus, one stood out: "I know you're in heaven, I hope to see you next year."
He didn't mean ... did he? He couldn't mean ... could he? After all, he signed a five-year contract with the Lakers in July 2009.
No need to worry about Artest. In an interview on "The Morning Jones" on Hardcore Sports Radio, Artest explained that cryptic lyric. As many hoped was the case when Tupac Shakur died in 1996, Artest said he simply hoped Jackson had staged his death.
"Michael passed away, but I was like 'nah, it isn't possible,'" Artest said. "Maybe he just wanted to take a quick vacation and come back, and he'll come perform again."
And a year later?
"I guess it still hasn't sunk in that MJ has passed away," Artest said.