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The Toronto Raptors haven’t had the most successful 2020-21 NBA season, but there was at least one small victory: Nav Bhatia, the team’s ‘Superfan,’ became one of the first fans to be honoured at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame over the weekend.
“In the greatest building basketball has, the name Superfan Nav Bhatia will be immortalized,” Bhatia said in a tweet. “There is now a turban and the first fan honoured within Naismith Basketball Hall Of Fame. I am overcome with emotions today.”
Bhatia has sat courtside for nearly every Raptors home game—and many road games—since the franchise’s inception in 1995 (discounting the pandemic games, of course). He’s become an integral part of Raptors lore, earning himself a spot in the team’s championship parade in 2019, as well as his very own custom ring.
Now, he’s got a shiny new Basketball Hall of Fame ring to add to the collection.
Bhatia moved to Canada in 1984 from India with a background in mechanical engineering, but says he faced many challenges finding work in his field—an experience many immigrants can relate to. He was able to adjust his path and forge a new career in auto sales, becoming one of the GTA’s most successful dealers as the owner of Rexdale and Mississauga Hyundai.
Still, busy as he is, he’s always made time for Raptors games.
“I love basketball. I love the Raptors. But for me, I’m using the game of basketball to bring the world together,” Bhatia told Complex last year.
In 2018, he launched the Nav Bhatia Superfan Foundation, an organization aimed at uniting people through basketball. The Foundation builds or refurbishes basketball courts across Canada and, with the help of the MLSE Foundation, ensures there is programming for kids of all backgrounds to get together and play the game Bhatia fell in love with.
“This is what basketball does—it gives us the opportunity to bring the world together,” he said.