By Jill Colvin
MIDTOWN — Brothers Josh and Matt Levine bid goodbye to Long Island Thursday and boarded a train for an epic quest. Their mission: to hunt down a Carmelo Anthony jersey before any of their classmates.
"We want to go to school Monday and have the first Carmelo something," said Josh, 12, a die-hard Knicks fan who was overjoyed to learn about the trade. "I’m very excited," he said.
The hunt began in the brothers' hometown of Merrick, New York where Josh said he tried every store to no avail. He checked online, but was told he'd have to wait 14 to 15 weeks for anything to arrive — unacceptable, he said. He even called Madison Square Garden, but he said they couldn’t help.
So Josh and Matt, 10, headed to the big city for some help from their cousin, Andrew Zang, 22, who lives in Murray Hill.
The team checked Madison Square Garden, Modell’s Sporting Goods, as well as the former NBA store which they discovered closed its doors last week. While all of the stores had various logo gear, Josh had his heart set on a blue NBA "Swingman" jersey in his small size, which he said they didn't have.
"We’ve walked into every store," said Zang, laughing, as he patiently stood suggesting alternative options at the Champs Sports store at the corner of West 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue in Times Square, which had only large jerseys left in black and white and none left in blue.
After much deliberation, Josh finally settled on a $25 blue t-shirt with the famous forward’s name.
"We’re very disappointed," he said. He hoped his classmates would still be impressed.
Saleswoman Ebony Beecham, 28, said that keeping up with demand has been a challenge through the week.
The store’s first shipment of $45 jerseys sold out within five minutes Wednesday morning, hours after Anthony's number had been released.
"They’re going like hot cakes," Beecham said, adding that even the t-shirts featuring old Knicks players traded off the team were flying off the shelves at a marked-down $5.
The Modell’s location on West 42nd Street has also been swamped.
Manager Melvin Chicas said the store has sold thousands of number "7" shirts over the past three days to fans who’ve gone as far as to line up outside before they open their doors.
"It’s like Anthony fever," said Chicas, who said the store is managing to keep up with demand. "For us in this store particularly, it’s been great. Tourists, they love the Knicks," he said.
"If y’all keep Carmelo stuff, I’ll be back!" shouted one happy customer as he exited the store.
And even smaller stores are cashing in on the game.
Seventh grader James Desorbo, 13, made a quick last-minute stop at Grand Slam, which sells sports apparel in Times Square, to buy a number "7" shirt before his family headed home to Syracuse — the same city where Anthony played college hoops.
"He’ll be the first kid in school to have Carmelo Anthony," said his dad, Tony, standing proud.