Toronto Raptors Superfan Nav Bhatia first fan to be inducted into the Basketball Hall Of Fame

TORONTO Raptors Superfan Nav Bhatia became the first fan to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday.

He was honoured at the unveiling of the James Goldstein Superfan Gallery in Springfield, Massachusetts. His display includes the first turban in the hall of fame, as well as a replica of his championship ring, a superfan bobble head, custom superfan shoes, his courtside seat and the original Raptors jersey he was presented in 1998 that declared him a “superfan,” according to a CTV report.

Bhatia tweeted: “Today was a dream. In the greatest building basketball has, the name Superfan Nav Bhatia will be immortalized.There is now a turban and the first fan honoured within Naismith Basketball Hall Of Fame. I am overcome with emotions today.”

Bhatia was presented with a Hall of Fame class of 2020 ring and tweeted that he was honoured and humbled to receive it, adding: “I wear this with immense pride and responsibility to carry on spreading the game I love.”

In 2014, The VOICE wrote in a story titled “Nav Bhatia rocks the audience at TEDx Toronto”:

Nav’s story is one of an immigrant fleeing the Sikh riots in India during 1984 to Canada and the start of a new life. This new beginning did have its challenges. Nav describes in detail the difficulty he had finding his first job to his rise up the Hyundai ladder only to have most of his staff resign as they did not want to work for a man with a beard and turban. He persevered and stood proudly on stage to announce to the crowd his dealership was now the number one volume dealer for Hyundai in Canada.

Nav then transitioned to his love for basketball and his enthusiasm for the Toronto Raptors. Sitting courtside, Nav has not missed a game or has been late to a game for 20 years. In 1998 General Manager Isiah Thomas presented Nav with a jersey at center court inscribed with SUPERFAN on the back. The once ostracized Sikh was now being honoured by the mainstream community.

Days later Nav walked into a room to have a gentleman on the phone announce: “My cab is here”. This was the moment Nav Bhatia realized he needed to do something to change the perception of Sikhs in the mainstream. Nav explained: “I was not angry. A lot of my Sikh brothers drive cabs and I am proud of them. I believe in the dignity of labour. I just want mainstream society to know just like any other race, we drive cabs, we own restaurants and we are CEOs of major companies.”

He discussed a plan with the Toronto Raptors to improve the perception of Sikhs in the mainstream and as a result increase South Asian attendance to the games. The organization welcomed Nav’s initiative and has been awarded most diverse fan base five years in a row by the NBA. The partnership has proven beneficial for the Raptors and Nav as thousands of South Asians are present amongst the crowd integrating into the mainstream, standing side by side with people of all colours.

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