While players, coaches, and executives are regularly honored by the National Basketball Hall of Fame, it’s only this year that fans are getting in on the action. The Hall debuted a new division, the superfan gallery, meant to highlight those fans that go above and beyond in their support of the league and their favorite teams. One of the first, and most fitting, honorees is Raptors fanatic Nav Bhatia, a 68-year-old businessman based in Toronto, who has attended almost every home in the franchise’s history.
Bhatia first went to a Raptors game in the early days of the team’s inaugural 1995-96 season, and quickly fell in love with both the game of basketball and the team. He has since been crowned an official superfan by former Raptors general manager Isiah Thomas in 1998, and was given a championship ring after Toronto’s NBA title win last season; he is the first fan to receive one in league history.
Speaking of the honor, Bhatia called it “unreal,” before speaking about the importance of being included in the Hall of Fame with all of the legends of the game:
Me being in the presence of such great basketball talent in the world right here, this is so unreal … I’m still in shock and that’s why I’m accepting this on behalf of not just the Toronto fans, Raptors fans, but all the fans, basketball fans and the NBA fans all over the world. I want to thank you.
Also joining Bhatia in the Hall’s new superfan gallery is the late director and actress Penny Marshall, who was a fervent Los Angeles Lakers fan before her death in 2018.
Bhatia took to his Twitter account after receiving the honor, thanking the Hall and the Raptors franchise for allowing him to become one of the most recognizable superfans in the league:
can’t say this is a dream come true because this isn’t something you dream about as a fan. To be honoured into the @Hoophall as the first honouree into the Superfan Gallery. What an incredible day. Don’t wake me up please. Thank you to the Hall and the @Raptors organization pic.twitter.com/727NnUEtBP
— Nav Bhatia Superfan (@superfan_nav) February 14, 2020
Aside from attending games, Bhatia runs a string of car dealerships in Toronto, and has previously set up events to bring kids to games at the Scotiabank Arena, a place he said has “the most diverse crowd” in the NBA.
Subscribe here for our free daily newsletter.