Indian Canadian superfan Nav Bhatia will be present to watch another home game at the Scotiabank Arena on Thursday night, as he has never misses a game.
The stakes are especially high this time for his favorite team as the Raptors are set to battle the defending champions, the Golden State Warriors at Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals.
As an avid fan, the 67-year-old has reportedly been to every game since 1995.
Bhatia’s commitment to the Canadian NBA team is so undeniable that former Raptors general manager Isiah Thomas, bestowed upon Bhatia with the title of “Superfan” back in 1999. However, what really has people interested in Bhatia is not only his passion for his home team, but the inspiring story behind it.
Bhatia’s story went viral earlier this week when journalist Muhammad Lila wrote about him in a Twitter thread. According to the post, he came to Canada as an immigrant with practically nothing 34 years ago. While he did have an engineering degree, he couldn’t find a suitable job in the 1980s.
“As a brown turbaned guy with an accent he couldn’t get a job as an engineer, so he wound up working as a car salesman at a dealership in a rough part of town.”
The post highlighted how talented he was at his job – selling a record of 127 cars in just 90 days. That record reportedly remains standing to this day. He soon became the general manager of a dealership and eventually bought it himself. He now owns multiple car dealerships.
His success in sales allowed him to afford a hobby, which is why he was able to attend the first game in Raptors history on Nov. 3, 1995. That night he saw his home team deliver a 94-79 victory against New Jersey.
Despite the many low points of the Raptors’ NBA campaign through the years, Bhatia’s loyalty remained unwavering, USA Today reports.
“The big hope,” he was quoted as saying. “People would ask, ‘Why are you going to Raptors games? They suck. You’re wasting your money.’ But you know what, I’m loyal.”
Bhatia recalled getting mistaken for a cab driver while getting his phone fixed at a store back in 1999. Instead of responding to the person’s ignorance, he decided to try and turn the experience into something positive.
“I went to the Raptors and bought 3,000 tickets and brought kids from a cross-section of the community,” he said. “I wanted all kinds of kids to sit together and integrate with each other so they don’t have to go through what I was going through at that time. It was ‘How do I change that perception?’ “
Bhatia’ has not only endeared himself to Raptors fans but also became a local celebrity as the Raptors’ official “Community Ambassador,” landing endorsement deals and generating thousands of followers on social media.