A Sikh man becomes the first fan ever inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame
via Superfan Nav / Twitter

Nav Bhatia's name was immortalized over the weekend when he joined the ranks of Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Wilt Chamberlain in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. While some make it to the HOF for their jump shot or coaching skills, Bhatia is the first to be enshrined for being a fan.

"In the greatest building basketball has, the name Superfan Nav Bhatia will be immortalized," Bhatia said in a tweet. "There is now a turban and the first fan honoured within Naismith Basketball Hall Of Fame. I am overcome with emotions today."

Bhatia bought a pair of tickets to the Toronto Raptors' first game during their inaugural season in 1995 on a whim and has attended every home game since. He's known for sitting courtside, just below one of the nets.

Rival Milwaukee Bucks power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo once called Bhatia the Raptors "most annoying fan."

But to Raptors fans, he's quite the opposite. In fact, he was awarded a championship ring after the team won the NBA Finals in 2019.

But Bhatia's fandom is about a lot more than just aggressively cheering for his team. According to his website, his goal is to "unite people of all ages and backgrounds through the game of basketball so they don't have to face the discrimination [he's] faced as a visible minority."

He came to Canada from India in 1984 to escape religious persecution. When he arrived, he had a hard time getting in a job with his mechanical engineering background because of the way he looked.

Bhatia was able to land a job as a car salesman where he excelled, eventually making his way through the ranks. Now, he now owns two of the most successful Hyundai dealerships in Canada.

In 2018, he received a Royal Bank of Canada Top 25 Canadian Immigrants Award, an honor given to those who contribute to the Canadian economy, to Canadian society, and to Canada overall.

His experiences as an immigrant led him to create the Nav Bhatia Superfan Foundation dedicated to raising money to build basketball courts and camps for kids in Canada and across the globe.

The superfan's belief in charity mirrors those of his Sikh faith, which put an emphasis on charitable giving. "A wise man said — the true measure of a man is not his intelligence or how much he amasses," Bhatia writes on his site. "No, the true measure of a man is how quickly can he respond to the needs of others and how much of himself he can give."

As a World Vision ambassador, Bhatia helped raise $200,000 to build restrooms for female students in northern India.

Changing perceptions -- from Sikh to superfan | Nav Bhatia | TEDxTorontowww.youtube.com

Bhatia's fandom is also about changing perceptions of Sikhs in Canada and abroad. "As I stand before you today, what do you see?" he asked the audience at his 2014 Ted Talk. "Someone who makes you uncomfortable on your flight? Your convenience store worker? Your gas station attendant? You see my turban and my beard."

After a man mistook him for a cab driver, he realized that he needed to do something to change the narrow perceptions of Sikhs. So he decided to do so through his love of basketball.

"I went to every game. I cheered the most. Everybody noticed this turban guy cheering on the team the loudest. Even the opposing team noticed that," he added. "All of the sudden, this turban guy became the face of the Toronto Raptors."

Bhatia's story is a wonderful example of the power that sports fandom has to bring people together across ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic divides.

"This is what basketball does—it gives us the opportunity to bring the world together," he said.


1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

This article originally appeared on 08.21.18

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