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Toronto Superfan To Sit Courtside For Raptors' Historic Game

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Toronto's NBA team, the Raptors, has a superfan.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IN MY FEELINGS")

DRAKE: (Singing) Kiki, do you love me? Are you riding? Say you'll never ever leave from beside me.

NOEL KING, HOST:

OK, yes, Toronto's own Drake, of course. But even Drake's antics on the sidelines don't come close to Nav Bhatia's.

MARTIN: Bhatia says he hasn't missed a single home game in 24 years. He says his friends think he maybe has an addiction to the Toronto Raptors.

NAV BHATIA: I agree, I'm guilty. But I work really hard. I don't drink. I don't smoke. I don't womanize. I only Raptorize (ph).

KING: He only Raptorizes. The Raptors are in the NBA Finals for the first time in the franchise's history, so you can imagine what this moment means for Bhatia.

BHATIA: I feel on the top of the world. I was not believing it. I had to pinch myself a couple of times to see. We are in the NBA Finals.

MARTIN: And it's kind of like he's part of the team. Over the years, Bhatia has gotten a fan base of his own.

KING: He immigrated to Canada from India in 1984, and he says at first, he didn't feel welcome.

BHATIA: I couldn't get a job at that time as an engineer. Nobody wanted an engineer with a beard and turban.

KING: So he got a job as a car salesman, and he worked his way up, eventually buying the whole dealership.

MARTIN: Journalist Muhammad Lila has written about Nav Bhatia. He says Toronto has come a long way in welcoming its immigrants.

MUHAMMAD LILA: It's a great moment for the city to say, look, like, we're a city that was made by immigrants. We're a city of people like Nav Bhatia.

MARTIN: Game 1 against the Golden State Warriors is tonight at home in Toronto. So you know Bhatia will be sitting courtside. And if you're not a Raptors fan, no worries - Nav Bhatia doesn't mind.

BHATIA: We are all brothers, and at the end of the day, that's what brings us together.

MARTIN: That and basketball.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IN MY FEELINGS")

DRAKE: (Singing) 'Cause I want you and I need you. And I'm down for you... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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