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Nav Bhatia: First fan to be inducted into NBA Hall of Fame

Indian-born Canadian Nav Bhatia, a Toronto Raptors fan for decades, became the first fan to be inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame for the promotion of game and philanthropy.

Last updated: 01.06.2021
Nav Bhatia First fan to be inducted into NBA Hall of Fame

Nav Bhatia, often known as the Raptors Superfan, is a Canadian businessman and basketball fan of the Toronto Raptors. He was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame as the first fan ever. He currently heads the Superfan Foundation, which aims to bring people together through their shared passion for sports. Since 1995, he has been to every Toronto Raptors home game. Bhatia was the only fan to earn a coveted championship ring alongside the Raptors after they ultimately won the NBA Championship in 2019.

Bhatia immigrated to Canada from India in 1984 and is now the owner of one of the country's top-selling Hyundai dealerships, with a net worth of $50 million. In 2018, he established the Superfan Foundation as a way to connect people from all walks of life together through sport in Canada and around the world. Every year, he spends $300,000 to send thousands of kids to Raptors games. 

The 69-year-old Indian-born Canadian, Nav Bhatia, entered the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame museum in Springfield, Massachusetts, on May 15, 2021. And it wasn't only for being a devoted Raptors fan. Through philanthropy and activism, he has leveraged his celebrity and the game to break stereotypes and bring about change, one basketball fan at a time. The gallery of Kobe Bryant, who was also honoured with him, is only a few metres away. Eddie Sutton, Rudy Tomjanovich, Tamika Catchings, Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens, and Patrick Baumann were among the class of 2020, which was led by the superstar triumvirate of Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, and the late Kobe Bryant.

"I started tearing up when I saw my championship turban," Superfan Nav Bhatia revealed in an exclusive interview with India about the Hall of Fame weekend. 

"That's the turban I used during the Golden State run, the white turban with the red and here it was, installed forever in Hall of Fame along with a video playing for 10 minutes showing my highlights on my basketball super fan life. Then, a few feet you go away, it's Kobe Bryant's gallery," Bhatia added.

Not just this, he was also named one of the Top 25 Canadian Immigrants by the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) on June 19, 2018. Bhatia, who grew up in India, departed after the anti-Sikh riots that followed Indira Gandhi's assassination in the autumn of 1984. Everything he has accomplished in Toronto has been a "pure blessing," he says. 

The Toronto Raptors, Bhatia's favourite team, finished the 2020-21 season with a 27-45 record, their worst since 2012. It ended their seven-year postseason streak, which was the second-longest in the NBA at the time. Bhatia maintains close relationships with India despite having emigrated to Canada nearly four decades ago. He returned to India twice in 2019. First, to promote the historic NBA India Games over the summer, and then to witness them firsthand in October - the first-ever preseason games on Indian soil. 

Bhatia reflects on his trip to India, saying, "It was an amazing experience I had in India. I can't wait to come back again in 2023 or 2024 and be a part of another game."

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