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Nav Bhatia explores ‘Superfan’ journey and uncovers diversity in new memoir

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Nav Bhatia, popularly known as the Raptors Superfan, launched his memoir, “The Heart of a Superfan” on Monday. The book unfolds Bhatia’s journey from India to Canada, delving into his 29-year-old love affair with the team.

The Raptors are not just a basketball organization to Bhatia, he says they are a family that accepted and recognized him for his courtside enthusiasm. It was in 1998 when Isiah Thomas, the then Executive Vice-President of the Toronto Raptors, called him to the centre court and presented him a custom jersey with “Superfan” written on it. Bhatia has attended every single home game of the Raptors since 1995 until December 10, 2021, when he had to isolate due to COVID-19.

“Since 1995, neither have I missed a single Raptors game nor been late to any or came out early from this,” Bhatia said while talking to OMNI News. “This is yet another record I hold with them because I love them.”

The Raptors have a lot of fans in Canada and around the world, but what made Bhatia stand out was his loyalty to the team. He believes fans should support teams in their highs and lows.

When the Raptors joined the NBA in 1995 and came to Toronto, Bhatia attended his first game on Nov. 3 and fell in love with basketball and the team.

“I purchased two tickets for the first game and thought that for one year, I would attend the matches to see if interest is developed in the game,” he said. “And from that day onwards, I have been passionate about the Raptors and enjoying every single game of theirs till date.”

The Raptors and Bhatia hold a very tight bond. After the team won its first NBA championship in 2019, they honored Bhatia with his championship ring during halftime for his nearly 24 years of dedication and loyalty. In May 2021, Bhatia became the first ever fan to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and was awarded a Hall of Fame class of 2020 ring.

“Heart of a Superfan” isn’t only about the journey of Bhatia becoming a superfan, but also tales of naughtiness from Bhatia’s childhood days.

“This book of mine has anecdotes of the conversations I have had with the coaches, players on and off the court, over the years,” he said.

In his memoir, Nav talked about embracing diversity and the lessons he learned from his hardships and applying them to his life as an entrepreneur, film producer, humanitarian, son, father, and husband. Bhatia believes that people should become more accepting of each other and shouldn’t discriminate based on looks, color, or nationality, and embrace the differences that each of us has.

“I came to Canada at 33 and faced many problems due to my looks; I was a mechanical engineer yet couldn’t find a job,” he said. “In the initial years, I cleaned the washrooms, worked as a janitor and landscaper to manage expenses and take care of my family.”

Bhatia, the owner of five car dealerships in the Greater Toronto Area, was approached by Penguin Random House Canada to write this memoir. He wasn’t sure how to build on this opportunity, and that’s when he got in touch with the book’s co-author, Tamara Baluja.

Baluja visited his family and attended Raptors games with Bhatia to have a firsthand look at the life of a superfan.

“Co-writing the book with her became easy for me as she tried to understand my journey and made me feel comfortable to share my story,” he said. “She became one with my family and friends, got the true essence of my life, and brought it to life in this book.”

With the release of his new memoir, Bhatia hopes he can continue to encourage diversity, equality, and acceptance on and off the court in the beloved game of basketball.

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