Nav Bhatia, still loves basketball and his Raptors
Old 04-20-2014, 10:24 PM   #1 (permalink)
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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/21/sp...=tw-share&_r=1

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Nav Bhatia has watched a lot of bad basketball, the inevitable result of being a Toronto Raptors season-ticket holder since the franchise’s inception in 1995.

Bhatia, 62, has never missed a regular-season home game, he said. He watched Kobe Bryant score 81 points against Toronto in 2006. He endured a 66-loss season in 1997-98. He rooted for the Raptors when Morris Peterson was among their leading scorers. His enthusiasm never waned. Bhatia, the owner of two Toronto-area Hyundai dealerships, remained courtside, chiding far superior opponents for being too old, too slow, sometimes both.

“It’s funny,” the Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan said, “because I watch old games from the late 1990s, and you see Nav sitting in the exact same seat, doing the exact same things.”

Given the team’s up-and-down history — mostly down — Bhatia is relishing this postseason. The Raptors, the third seed in the Eastern Conference, trail the Nets by 1-0 in their best-of-seven first-round series. Game 2 is Tuesday at Air Canada Centre.

“This season has been very special because nobody expected this,” said Bhatia, whose sizable commitment to the Raptors includes roughly $300,000 a year on game tickets, many of them for fellow Torontonians with South Asian roots. “Basketball has given us a way to connect to the mainstream. We might look different, but we have the same passion for the game.”

Bhatia refers to almost everyone he knows as either “my good buddy” (Vince Carter, Dwight Howard) or “my dear friend” (Mark Cuban, the rapper Drake). Over the course of a recent 30-minute conversation at Madison Square Garden, he used the word “love” 15 times. He loves basketball. He loves the Raptors. He loves his employees. He loves his wife. Did he mention that he loves basketball?

“I work very hard,” Bhatia said. “I work from 8 in the morning until 11 at night. But for the two and a half hours when I’m here, I’m in a different zone.”

On Wednesday, about an hour before the Raptors faced the Knicks in their regular-season finale, Bhatia planted himself in a courtside folding chair next to Allan Houston, the Knicks’ assistant general manager. Bhatia used to heckle him during Houston’s playing days, although “heckle” may be too strong of a word. Bhatia neither swears nor scolds. Instead, he mocks and admonishes, a one-man version of Statler and Waldorf from “The Muppet Show.” He tells players that they are washed up, that their legs have “no juice.” Bhatia has a habit of repeating himself until the players acknowledge him.

His persistence was on display before the tip Wednesday. He spotted Darrell Walker, a Knicks assistant whom Bhatia has known since Walker’s brief tenure as the Raptors’ coach, from 1996 to 1998.

“Darrell!” Bhatia yelped. “Darrell! Coach! Darrell! Darrell!”

Walker turned around — what choice did he have? — and grabbed a seat. “What’s up, Nav?” he said. “Look at you with the bling!”

Bhatia was wearing several sparkly pieces of jewelry. His watch was practically the size of a chandelier.

“I have to be in touch with these young people!” Bhatia said. “I have to look good! I have to have my bling bling on!”

Other dignitaries stopped to pay their respects, including Kyle Lowry, the Raptors’ starting point guard. (Bhatia recalled being worried that Lowry would be traded midseason. “I told them not to break up the family,” he said.) Next came two fans from New York who recognized Bhatia from television and wanted a photograph with him. Then there was Jonas Valanciunas, the team’s young center from Lithuania. Bhatia has helped him with his English.

“He’s like my dad,” Valanciunas said.

Last edited by jeffb; 04-20-2014 at 10:38 PM.
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Old 04-20-2014, 10:33 PM   #2 (permalink)
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he should be in one of those nba video games whenever you play the Raptors lol
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Old 04-20-2014, 10:39 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Old 04-20-2014, 10:59 PM   #4 (permalink)
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This man is a legend
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Old 04-20-2014, 11:05 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Old 04-20-2014, 11:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
and that's the bottom line, cause JV said so!!!

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Wow, never heard of him.
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Old 04-20-2014, 11:36 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Man he has been my idol since I was younger, I can only hope to be so loaded one day that I can afford court side seats to every raptor home game
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Old 04-21-2014, 12:23 AM   #8 (permalink)
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i feel like a bandwagonner next to him

but lol @JV's "He's like my dad"
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Old 04-21-2014, 12:24 AM   #9 (permalink)
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He is lthe Raptors version of spike Lee
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Old 04-21-2014, 12:26 AM   #10 (permalink)
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heard his radio commercials for years, never knew he's a big raptor fan
I think I've seen him on tv now and then, without knowing who he is
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Old 04-21-2014, 02:06 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I remember when he was at the Lakers vs Magic finals completely dressed in Orlando gear.
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Old 04-21-2014, 06:16 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Nav is truly a great Raps fan.
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Old 04-21-2014, 02:24 PM   #13 (permalink)
is.....

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FYI, incase any of you were wondering, Nav now sits in the second row, right be hind his old seats because he had a back operation and can no longer risk having a player 'land in his lap'. Did anyone notice Navs new seating location?
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Old 04-21-2014, 02:37 PM   #14 (permalink)
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He attends games of players he considers friends. Like VC. Which is fine of course, I just wish he didn't dress in their jerseys and colours. I wouldn't.

If we had his $$$, we would have 10 courtside seats as well. Hard to knock a guy that has supported the team as much as him.
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Old 04-21-2014, 02:54 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I'm just baffled as too how much he is making owning a car dealership when he spends over 300 k a year just on tickets. Also, never knew he hung out with opposition like mike woodson.
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Old 04-21-2014, 03:01 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by omar36 View Post
I'm just baffled as too how much he is making owning a car dealership when he spends over 300 k a year just on tickets. Also, never knew he hung out with opposition like mike woodson.
He was sitting next to Mark Cuban at a Raptors road game against the Mavs. I think that just shows how deep his pockets really are.
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Old 04-21-2014, 03:03 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I know there deep but seriously, he makes that much.money from owning a car dealershipt also, to mention, he started working as a salesmen... Truly he started from the bottom
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Old 04-21-2014, 09:48 PM   #18 (permalink)
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He was sitting next to Mark Cuban at a Raptors road game against the Mavs. I think that just shows how deep his pockets really are.
it's all laundered drug money
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Old 04-22-2014, 12:37 AM   #19 (permalink)
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it's all laundered drug money
I did not sikh that coming
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Old 05-05-2014, 12:06 AM   #20 (permalink)
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