Knicks vs. Draftniks

And the Knicks Grab Pole Position

"And he doesn't use deodorant," adds David Johansen, a lawyer from L.A. seated a row behind, sipping a beer through a straw. On the big screen, Mike Tirico gets up close and personal with the Serbian players, lamenting to viewers how they grew up with "war going on all around them."

"Or you could call it the genocide they were perpetrating," Johansen snaps back.

The talk turns to Maciej Lampe, the Polish power forward whose stock is dropping like shares of ImClone. "How do you think he feels?" wonders Johansen's companion, Elizabeth Morgan, a lawyer from Massachusetts who looks like she may have taken a wrong turn while headed to a Neil Young concert. "Is this a blow to his confidence?" Perhaps, but it's also a $6 million blow to his bank account, the difference between early-first-round money and a second-round non-guaranteed contract.

The tension increases again as the second round begins and the Knicks are on the clock again. 'Nik fave Troy Bell, who had been projected as an early second-rounder, went at No. 16 to Boston.

Somewhat tentatively, a chant swells: "We want Lam-pe! We want Lam-pe!"

And, shockingly, that's what we get.

The Knicks have lucked into the steal of the draft, using the 29th pick to snatch a player rated as high as No. 5 on some draft lists. It'll be years before we know if he's Dirk Nowitski or Keith Van Horn, but for now, we can bask in the glow of pure hope. Maciej Lampe (MA-chay LOM-pay) is the best Knick draft pick since the Rod Strickland slide in 1988.

The 'Niks are stunned. They can't even get it together enough to chant, "Ma-ciej Ma-ciej Man! You're gonna be a Ma-ciej Man!"

As the new Polish Knick dons his cap and approaches the podium, Bell says, almost kindly, "You're better than Mike Sweetney."

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