The Incredible Story Of Indian-Born Former Car Salesman, Who Was Inducted In NBA’s Hall Of Fame
Despite the grim impact of the pandemic globally, sport has continued to spark tiny joys in our daily lives. Another such anecdote from the sporting universe is doing the rounds on the internet. It’s about the journey of basketball superfan Nav Bhatia, who was recently inducted the NBA Hall of Fame along with the likes of Kobe Bryant, beginning from when he fled India in 1984.
The anti-Sikh riots, in the aftermath of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, forced Bhatia to escape to Canada in the mid-80s. But despite having a degree in mechanical engineering, he ‘struggled to find work because of his long beard and turban.’
1) Let’s start in 1984…
With political turmoil making living conditions in India unsafe, Nav Bhatia fled his home country — moving to Canada.
The only problem?
Despite a degree in mechanical engineering, Nav struggled to find work because of his “long beard & turban.” pic.twitter.com/2WVDYFQNfQ
— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) May 19, 2021
Bhatia ditched his pride for purpose, and accepted a role as a car salesman, for which he was clearly overqualified. But he was intent on proving the fruits of hard work, and soon he became a star employee. He sold a ‘record’ 127 cars in the first 90 days, which helped him progress as a General Manager of a larger ‘car dealership across town.’
Hateful subordinates didn’t accept Bhatia as their leader, but he thrived in this challenge via a new staff. He transformed the business within a few years and was able to takeover both the dealerships he had worked at. He became a ‘self-made millionaire’ in a heart-warming rags-to-riches tale.
6) Nav Bhatia hired entirely new staff and started to transform the business.
Within a few years, the near-bankrupt dealership was now one of the largest in all of Canada.
The best part?
Bhatia ended up buying the dealership, along with the original one that hired him in 1984. pic.twitter.com/9wxtdj8fiQ
— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) May 19, 2021
This financial stability facilitated the pursuit of his other passion — basketball. He became one of the first season ticket holders after the Toronto Raptors became part of the NBA through its expansion in 1995.
Being in the audience without fail, Bhatia soon earned a reputation as the ‘loudest guy in the arena.’ He was recognised as a ‘superfan’ by the team’s GM Isiah Thomas, after several seasons of supporting the Raptors, who weren’t doing particularly well on the court. In a game during the 1998 season, he called Bhatia to the centre court and bestowed upon him this new official title.
Congrats @superfan_nav as the 1st fan inducted into the @HoopHall. Over the years, you’ve become the @Raptors Superfan and a champion of diversity & sport yet you’ve remained true to your values of inclusion. You are an inspiration for so many to embrace all that makes us unique. pic.twitter.com/Gk17CbfanZ
— Bardish Chagger (@BardishKW) May 19, 2021
It’s been over 25 years since, but Bhatia remains to be an ever-present figure in attendance for the Raprtors. He hasn’t missed a single home game despite ‘13 losing seasons, multiple blizzards and even blackouts.’ His team finally won their first-ever NBA title in 2018, and Bhatia became the first ever superfan to receive an official championship ring for his unwavering loyalty.
Bhatia was recently inducted in the NBA Hall of Fame, setting an inspirational example through his loyalty and hard work. “I made a promise as a kid to my mom I would never remove my turban. Today it is in the Hall of Fame. Embrace what makes you different. It is your superpower. This is the crown I wear each day. Thank you, mom,” he had said during the induction.
The Superfan Nav Bhatia Foundation –
supported thru donation of my appearance fees, endorsement fees, paid posts, & merch on my site. I don’t keep 1$ personally from any of the above. We give away tickets, basketballs and building basketball courts! Get ready for 2021! #imwithnav pic.twitter.com/6KuJ8rsTIb
— Nav Bhatia Superfan (@superfan_nav) May 23, 2021
The superfan ‘spends $300k annually to send thousands of kids to Raptors games’. He ensures that people from different backgrounds — black, white, brown, rich, poor, Christian, Muslim — sit next to each other, in order to promote diversity and bring communities closer to each other.
Isn’t this what sport is all about, at the end of the day? Winning inside the stadiums and outside it, too.
Images: Twitter/JoePompliano, Superfan_Nav