Toronto Raptors superfan honoured at Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame
TORONTO -- Toronto Raptors superfan Nav Bhatia has become one of the first fans to ever be honoured at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
Bhatia was honoured Sunday 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 Bhatia a “superfan.”
“I’m feeling good, but I’m still pinching myself,” Bhatia told CTV News on Monday morning. “This is crazy but God has been good to me. I’m humbled.”
While at the ceremony, Bhatia was presented with a Hall of Fame class of 2020 ring, which he says now balances out the weight of the 2019 championship ring he received after the Raptors clinched the title.
Bhatia attended his first Raptors game in 1995 after the team joined the NBA. He “got addicted the very first day,” he previously told CTV News Toronto.
In over 25 years, Bhatia has never missed a home game.
Bhatia is also known for sharing his love of the sport—and the Raptors—with others. Every year for the last 20 years, Bhatia has purchased about 3,000 tickets to home games and gifted them to members of the Sikh community, including a large number of children, to celebrate Vaisakhi, the Sikh new year, courtside.
“They are the most inclusive organization in the world and they have given this immigrant guy, who came here in 1984 and faced so many speed bumps and they gave me the opportunity to bring my community 20 years ago in the centre court of the Raptors and to display our culture,” he said.
“Thanks to Raptors for working with me. Thanks to NBA, thanks to all of them and all the great people who are in the Hall of Fame to give me the opportunity to bring the world together through this beautiful game of basketball.”
Speaking to CTV News, Bhatia didn’t seem bothered by the fact that the Raptors will not be going to the playoffs this year, saying that the team playing thousands of miles away from their home and fans put them at a disadvantage.
“Our team feeds off the fans and I think next season, when it starts, we are going to come very strong,” he said.
“I’ve seen a lot of ups and downs in the last 25 years with the Raptors—as everyone knows I have never missed a minute of the game at home—so continue cheering on them and we are going to, again be a top team in the next season."