“I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t womanize, but I Raptorize… I only Raptorize”- Superfan Nav Bhartia!
Well known Sikh-Canadian car dealership owner and Toronto Raptors “Superfan” Nav Bhatia has been waiting for the ultimate glory which has finally come for the affable Bhatia and his team Toronto Raptors as they won the opening night battle and followed up with another win in Game 3 of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals, which they hope to win in Six Games.
TORONTO – Well known Sikh-Canadian car dealership owner and Toronto Raptors “Superfan” Nav Bhatia has been waiting for the ultimate glory which has finally come for the affable Bhatia and his team Toronto Raptors as they won the opening night battle and followed up with another win in Game 3 of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals, which they hope to win in Six Games.
Bhatia has attended every Raptors home game in the last 24 years and still can’t believe that the team is in the NBA finals.
“Saturday night was amazing. I was in awe,” he said, still glowing from the team’s win in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals.
“I’m pinching myself. Is it real or am I just dreaming about that we are in the NBA finals?”
The 68-year-old’s eyes light up as he emphasizes those last two words.
Over 24 years, the Toronto Raptors have seen a lot of change. A new arena, new ownership, new coaches, players, and uniforms. The one constant has been Nav Bhatia. The Raptors ‘Superfan’ hasn’t missed a single home game in the team’s history.
“People have come and gone, but I’m there,” he said.
Bhatia is now part of team history. He has been running all over town speaking with media since the Raptors took home the conference trophy on Saturday. A Twitter thread about his life story made the rounds on Sunday. It even generated praise from Golden State coach Steve Kerr.
As he sits in his office, his media representative is booking a flight to New York where Bhatia will appear on ‘Good Morning America’ to talk all things Raptors. It seems that the world wants to hear his story, and with good reason.
Bhatia came to Toronto from New Dheli, India in 1984. As a Sikh, he had been fearful for his family’s safety.
“The Sikhs were being massacred at that time,” he said. “When you are not safe, there is nothing that matters to you. Nothing more valuable than your life.”
Once he arrived in Canada, he headed to Toronto where he found a basement apartment in Rexdale, but his welcome wasn’t exactly warm.
Despite being a mechanical engineer by trade, he said, “I couldn’t get a job because of the turban and beard.”
Bhatia found work as a car salesman at Rexdale Hyundai and discrimination followed.
“People called me Paki, people called me, you know, towel head, diaper head… a lot of names. That motivated me.”
Bhatia eventually set a record by selling 127 cars in 90 days. It’s a record that still stands. He was promoted to manager, then general manager, then partner. Now he owns Rexdale Hyundai along with two others dealerships and employs 190 people.
When the Raptors joined the NBA in 1995, Bhatia decided to buy two tickets to the first game.
“I said, ‘let me try,’ because I didn’t have any hobbies,” he said. “I didn’t know that it would be that life changing at that time.”
He loved the never-ending entertainment.
“I think I got addicted the very first day,” he said. “I started cheering as loud as I could, I was one of the loudest in the arena.”
His obsession has led him to postpone a kidney surgery until after the season, so he wasn’t forced to miss a game.
He pulls out the ‘Superfan’ jersey and holds it with a grin. It’s the original purple and white version with the dinosaur logo.
“I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t womanize, but I Raptorize… I only Raptorize.”