With an unparalleled dedication to his team and culture, Nav Bhatia, the Toronto Raptors’ Superfan discusses the root of his loyalty to both the team and community.

Mediaplanet: How did you first become a fan of the Toronto Raptors?

Nav Bhatia: When the team arrived it was an exciting time in Toronto and so I took the chance to purchase my first two season  seats. I did not know what to expect but I loved watching basketball on TV. I loved how close the fans were to the game and I knew I had to be a part of this experience in Toronto.

MP: What does the Toronto Raptors organization mean to you?

NB: The Raptors organization is like a family to me. When I am going through good or bad days they are always there to pick me up! It’s incredible to know from the ownerships right down to the ushers in the building we all care for each other like any family cares for their own.

MP: What can people learn from the Raptors organization and how they treat their fans?

NB: Well, the Raptors organization can be summed up by how inclusive of an organization they are. When I faced discrimination in the late 1990s it was the Raptors organization that gave me the opportunity to bring people together of all different backgrounds. Most organizations would not give a fan that type of chance. The Raptors have built a relationship with their fan base I have not seen across the NBA, which is maybe why you have hundreds of fans travelling to road games and thousands of fans watching outside in Jurassic Park during the playoffs.

MP: How did you become The Superfan?

NB: Well, I purchased my first set of season tickets when the Raptors first arrived in 1995 and never missed a home game since then. No matter the score or if we were winning or losing I would always be cheering and supporting the team. In 1999, our GM, Isiah Thomas, called me to courtside and presented me with the jersey — Superfan. On that day The Superfan was born!

MP: What perks come with being The Superfan?

NB: Contrary to popular belief there are no free tickets. But I can tell you the Raptors do their best to ensure I can purchase my signature seats on the baseline next to the hoop for any special basketball events at the ACC. However, I believe the biggest perk is helping thousands of kids from all different backgrounds fall in love with the game and the home team. The Raptors are very accommodating to the line-up of fans that show up courtside for a picture. And when I travel to other cities, the opposing organizations are very welcoming  as well.

MP: What was your favourite Raptors moment?

NB: It had to be the Vince Carter slam dunk competition win and when we beat the Miami Heat in the second round of the 2016 playoffs to get to the conference final for the first time ever. I can’t say I like one over the other.