Raptors superfan up for People's Choice Award
The People’s Choice Awards, hosted by E!, are coming soon, and the candidates for the “Most Hype Worthy Canadian of 2019” award are up now.
Several big names made the list, including actors Keanu Reeves (John Wick, The Matrix, Toy Story 4), Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy, Killing Eve), and Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother, MCU, Stumptown); singers Shawn Mendes and Celine Dion also made the list; as did drag queen Brook Lynn Hytes, a competitor on season 11 of RuPaul’s Drag Race; and rap superstar Drake, and finally, there is a name you might not recognize—at least if you didn’t follow the Raptors run to their first-ever NBA championship.
Nav Bhatia, the Raptors’ superfan made the list of voting options for the award. Car dealership owner by day; by night, from October to June, Bhatia is the Raptors superfan and community ambassador.
While he has been following the team since their inception in 1995, Bhatia rose to prominence this year, as the Raptors gained international attention en route to their first-ever NBA Finals appearance.
Often neglected by the U.S. media, the Raptors forced them to pay attention this year, as they knocked off the powerhouse Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals in six games—after losing the first two they won the next four—and advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in history.
Bhatia was there for every game. In fact, he hasn’t missed a game for the entire existence of the franchise—that’s more than 2,000 Raptors games he’s been a witness to.
Bhatia is so loyal to the organization, his mantra has become famous: “I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t womanize—I raptorize,” he has said during numerous interviews.
However, he has become an icon not just for his passion for the team, but also for his work in the community, as well as his representation of the many cultures that make up Toronto and Canada.
Every year, he provides an opportunity for thousands of underprivileged kids from various backgrounds to enjoy Raptors’ games from Scotiabank Arena.
A Sikh himself, Bhatia wants to change the misconceptions many people have towards Sikhs and South Asians.
During this year’s post-season run, Bhatia encountered several instances of racism and intolerance from opposing team’s fans. One instance in particular occurred when an angry Bucks fan posted a tweet mocking Bhatia’s turban.
It was deleted shortly after, but Bhatia didn’t respond with anger, instead, he responded with a tweet calling for people to enjoy the series and complimenting the Milwaukee organization.
This is part of why people love Bhatia so much—he’s a self-made man who always looks at the positive side, even when it’s hard to see.
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