He's the First Fan Honored in the NBA Hall of Fame

Nav Bhatia has never missed a home Raptors game
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2021 4:55 PM CDT
Raptors Superfan Honored by NBA Hall of Fame
Toronto Raptors fan Nav Bhatia gestures before Game 1 of basketball’s NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors on Thursday, May 30, 2019, in Toronto.   (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

(Newser) – Nav Bhatia loves the Toronto Raptors so much he wears their ring. The most devoted of fans, who has never missed a single home game since the team’s inception in 1995, got his own championship ring when the Raptors won the NBA Finals in 2019. And now, the superfan has a Hall of Fame ring, too. ESPN reports that Bhatia became the first fan to join the Hall earlier this month. Bhatia is a fixture at games, never without his turban, seldom without a towel to twirl, and always trying to jangle an opposing player. In fact, Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo called Bhatia the most annoying Raptors fan, Sports Illustrated reports. Besides supporting his home team, he also has a foundation dedicated to building basketball camps and courts across Canada to bring kids of all backgrounds together.

Bhatia was born in India and left Delhi for Canada during anti-Sikh riots in 1984. He struggled to find work in his field—mechanical engineering—and endured racism. He says he was once mistaken for a cab driver because of his turban, he told the Indian Express. After finding success selling cars, he began to thrive, eventually buying a dealership and amassing millions. He started attending Raptors games when the team was founded as a way to embrace his new home and raise the profile of Sikhs in the community. “There were speedbumps—I don’t call it discrimination. People are inherently good, but perception needed to change,” he told the Indian Express. (Read more uplifting news stories.)

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