W5 profile: Raptors Superfan Nav Bhatia takes 'fandemonium' to a new level
Published Friday, April 1, 2016 2:09PM EDT Last Updated Friday, April 1, 2016 2:36PM EDT
The Toronto Raptors have a lot of fans across Canada, but in Toronto, there is only one official Superfan.
Nav Bhatia, also know as The Superfan, takes fandemonium to a new level. He has been to every single home game since the Raptors inception in 1995. In recent years, he sits courtside right underneath the basket and thanks to his loud, boisterous personality has become well known to players, referees and other fans.
Nav says he uses basketball as an escape from work, “for 32 years in this country I have worked 7 days a week.” Today, Nav is the owner of two car dealerships and spends over of $250,000 a year on Raptors tickets.
But he did not start at the top. When Nav immigrated to Canada from India with his wife in 1984 to escape violent riots targeting Sikhs, he arrived with very little. They moved into a basement apartment in Milton, Ont. and he tried to find a job. After sending out his resume to hundreds of potential employers, a Hyundai dealership in Rexdale, Ont. finally gave him a chance in sales.
According to Nav, he encountered some discrimination from customers and fellow staff members at first but he would not let people’s lack of understanding get the best of him. Instead, he used it as motivation to sell cars. While working at the dealership in Rexdale, he was able to sell 127 cars in 3 months. A record that still stands today.
His passion for selling cars and treating everybody with respect is what Nav claims is his secret to success. “Work hard, treat people right and things will happen,” Nav says. And with his success, he is able to be afford the costs associated with being the Superfan.
He does not miss a home game, no matter what. His entire life is planned around the Raptors schedule. His wife and daughter understand his passion and are very forgiving. His daughter Tia told W5 “as long as he’s happy that’s all that matters to us. He’s worked so hard and he deserves to be happy.”
His family is grateful for all he has provided and what he is doing for the Sikh community. Nav’s fame as the Superfan has allowed him to use his public image to improve the way Canadians view the Sikh community. “Sikhs are – we look different, we are different I guess, but our passions are the same,” Nav says. So, he uses the game of basketball to drive home his message of inclusion.
Every year, Nav buys thousands of tickets and donates them to underprivileged children from his community along with other visible minorities to promote togetherness. He also picks one game every season in April to promote Sikh culture by celebrating the Punjabi festival of Baisaki. At that game, Nav showcases Indian song and dance, while recognizing the birth of the Sikh faith over 300 years ago.
With Nav’s success, he is able to pursue two passions veraciously. He is truly the biggest Raptors fan around and he is able to use his fame to promote his culture in Canada.
Nav’s dedication to the team looks like it may be hitting a high point as the Raptors just set a new team record of most wins in a season and they have also clinched a playoff spot in a very tough Atlantic Division.