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Raptors Superfan Nav Bhatia inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame


February 15, 2020 – At the start of NBA All-Star weekend Nav Bhatia, known nationwide as the Toronto Raptors‘ ‘Superfan’ who has attended almost all of the Raptors’ home games (and numerous road games) since 1995, became one of the first honourees into a new “Superfan Gallery” at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The late actor and director Penny Marshall was also inducted into the NBA Superfan Gallery, which will be a permanent area within the Hall of Fame honouring basketball’s most dedicated fans.

Bhatia said the honour goes beyond his wildest dreams. “Me being in the presence of such great basketball talent in the world right here, this is so unreal, said Bhatia.

“I’m still in shock and that’s why I’m accepting this on behalf of not just the Toronto fans, Raptors fans, but all the fans, basketball fans and the NBA fans all over the world. I want to thank you,” said the Raptors Superfan.

Toronto Raptors official Twitter account congratulated their Superfan saying, “For all you’ve done for the sport in Canada there is no one more deserving. Congrats, @superfan_nav.

To which @superfan_nav responded “I owe everything to you all. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Bhatia, who owns two Hyundai dealerships and one Genesis store in the west end of Toronto, also runs the Superfan Foundation as a way to unite people through the love of sport.

In June 2018, Bhatia was also named a recipient of the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Award.

Aside from the Superfan foundation Nav Bhatia spends $300,000 every year to send thousands of struggling kids to Raptors games.

Part of a detailed Twitter thread by journalist Muhammed Lila outlining the significance of Nav Bhatia’s basketball hall of fame recognition. Read the entire thread here: @MuhammadLila

Bhatia is no stranger to being the first NBA fan honoured as after the Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championship during the 2018-2019 season Bhatia also became the first ever fan to receive a championship ring.

Superfan Nav Bhatia shows off his NBA Championship ring on twitter. @superfan_nav

Bhatia has been a valuable media source for all things NBA over the past 25 years of Toronto Raptors history. Most recently in May 2019, Bhatia received a racist remark via a Milwaukee Bucks fan on Twitter. He responded not by slinging arrows, instead by inviting the person for dinner in the spirit of friendship.

Bhatia came to Toronto via Los Angeles after fleeing the violent persecution of Sikhs in India. He struggled to find a job in his field of mechanical engineering because no one wanted to hire an engineer with a turban and beard in the early eighties. So after doing cleaning and landscaping jobs for a stint, Bhatia landed a position as a car salesman for Hyundai of Mississauga. He never looked back, selling a record number (127) of vehicles in three months, and buying the dealership just two years later.

Bhatia told CBC Toronto in November “I immigrated to this beautiful country in 1984, and just like any other immigrant, you know, it took me some time to acclimatise. I went through my struggles. And by 1995, I settled down. I had a home. I had a nice job. I was a general manager and partner in car dealerships — but I was a boring guy.

“So when the Raptors came … I bought two tickets and [went to the] first game in November 1995. And you know, I just fell in love with the game. It’s the most diverse crowd in the NBA.”

story by Terry Lankstead

Other articles from totimes.ca – otttimes.ca – mtltimes.ca

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