A truckload of Jeremy Lin jerseys arrived at the Modell's store in Times Square Wednesday evening, hours before the sudden superstar would propel his team to a seventh straight victory and an 0.500 record.
The delivery contained just enough merchandise to satiate at least some of the frenzied Linsanity demand that's swept the city in the last two weeks.
"I have never, ever seen a player take the city, the state, the country, by storm the way Jeremy has," said Modell's CEO Mitch Modell. "He's on the front and back pages of newspapers, he's on three segments of ESPN, he's on the front cover of Sports Illustrated. And 10 days ago, people didn't even know who he was."
The sudden, unpredicatable rise of the Knicks' newest phenom explains the dearth of Lin-related merchandise that fans faced up until now: Lin, a Harvard-educated Taiwanese-American from California, was a little-known starter with no contract just two weeks ago, and there was no indication Lin jerseys would be in demand anytime soon.
So when the gear started flowing into Modell's Wednesday, fans were ready.
"Oh, my God, the jerseys are here!," a young customer exclaimed as the boxes of Lin jerseys, marked with bright orange stickers reading "Urgent," were carted into the store.
Lines formed around clothing racks before shirts were even unpacked. Workers barely finished opening one box before another they had to open another.
"My kids have been asking for this for two weeks. They're going to kiss me all over," said Annette Dellapena of New Jersey.
Modell said his stores have were getting shipments on Jeremy Lin gear four to five times a day.
"We have 168,000 Jeremy Lin merchandise coming in over the next 72 hours, either by truck, by van, by plane, by boat," he said. "We're just trying to keep up with the demand."
Modell attributed some of the delay to a shortage of shirts in royal blue, a color already claimed by other New York sports teams like the Rangers and the Giants, whose recent Super Bowl win already had printing presses tied up.
"We took every royal [blue] shirt when the Giants played, so Reebok and Adidas had to increase the quantity," said Modell.
"It's like Christmas in February," Modell said of the surge in customers. "But forget about the sales. It's so great for the city. It's so great for the NBA. When New York wins, it's a win for everybody."