If you are an avid basketball fan, particularly of the Toronto Raptors, then you know there is one person that you can count on to be at the Raptors game, no matter what. That individual is none other than titled Super Fan Nav Bhatia. But very few people know the story behind this kind-hearted and loyal Canadian fan.

Bhatia arrived in Canada in 1984, after fleeing India with his family, due to violence that was occurring within the country. Unfortunately, as many South Asian immigrants can attest to, the Super Fan faced many difficulties, one of which was obtaining a stable job, especially due to racism and discrimination, as Bhatia is identified as a Sikh. But this never hindered Nav Bhatia’s determination and work ethic. He says “I faced a lot of discrimination because of the way I looked…it was very difficult landing a job, but I never got angry. Whatever work I did, I made sure I was the best at it” (Canadian Immigrant, 2018).

This carried Bhatia into what has become his infamous success story as a car dealership owner. The Raptors supporter began working as a car salesman and carried his positive and hardworking mentality into that job, leading anyone who doubted him because of his religion, or the colour of his skin, to be proven wrong by his customer service and warm personality. Bhatia has also launched the Nav Bhatia Super Fan Foundation which is aimed at building basketball courts and camps that ensure inclusivity for any kid that wishes to play basketball. Nav Bhatia’s success has not only benefitted him, but he has given back to the South Asian community in proving that defining a Canadian does not have one single image or definition, but is represented by the diverse community we see within a Canadian basketball game.

Even now, after a lot of success and giving back to the community, Nav Bhatia still faces racist remarks. Recently, someone from Milwaukee had tweeted about Bhatia, saying “that’s the guy who has underwear on his head”, referring to the turban that Bhatia wears. Even in the face of adversity, Nav Bhatia remains as Canadian as can be, only returning the comment with love. He denounced any kind of hate towards the man who tweeted the derogatory term, saying that “if you’re going to kill him, what’s the difference between him and us?” (CBC News, 2019.)

Bhatia’s love for the Raptors began in 1995, in which he has not missed a game since. Even when times were tough, after he bought two dealerships, Nav Bhatia still bought tickets and made sure to attend the games. He states that when he went to his first game he “just feel in love”, and if you’re an avid basketball fan or have ever watched a game live, you know exactly what he’s talking about. There is a kind of nuance and energy that just fills your heart, and I argue that no one symbolizes this love better than Toronto Raptors fans, especially Nav Bhatia.

This man’s loyalty and commitment has not gone unnoticed. In June of this year, the Raptors claimed the title of the NBA Championship, and made sure that Bhatia was recognized in such a special moment. The team’s president, Masai Ujiri, presented the Super Fan with a championship ring, in which he honoured all that he has done for the team and basketball fans alike. I can only imagine what he must have felt in this moment, after 25 years alongside the only Canadian team in the league, through ups and downs, Bhatia must have been filled with pride and joy.

Nav Bhatia has shown us the spirit of sports, and its ability to bring us together. Nav Bhatia truly represents what it means to be, not only a Raptors fan, but a Canadian.

References

Canadian Immigrant. (2019). Nav Bhatia . Retrieved December 23, 2019, from https://canadianimmigrant.ca/canadas-top-25-immigrants/canadas-top-25- immigrants-2018/nav-bhatia.

CBC News. (2019, November 17). Raptors superfan Nav Bhatia shares stories of racism and  resilience | CBC News. Retrieved December 23, 2019, from https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/toronto-raptor-superfan-nav-bhatia- spreads-positivity-where-ever-he-goes-1.5362019.

Mok, T. (2019, October). Raptors gave Toronto superfan Nav Bhatia a championship ring. Retrieved December 23, 2019, from https://www.blogto.com/sports_play/2019/10/raptors-toronto-superfan-nav-bhatia-championship-ring/

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