SportsRaptors Superfan Nav Bhatia Targeted With Racist Tweet. Then The Tweeter Apologized.
Raptors and fans are the 'real Toronto': Loud, multicultural and hungry for historic win
On Saturday night, fans like Yasmin Said will watch as the Toronto Raptors try to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks and earn the franchise's first-ever trip to the NBA Finals. Historic is not a big enough word. © Provided by Canadian Broadcasting CorporationSaid, who says she watches the game with the intensity of an assistant coach, can't wait. When everyone comes together over the game, she says, Toronto feels like "one big family." Raptors in uncharted territory © Morry Gash/The Associated Press Milwaukee's Eric Bledsoe attempts a shot in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final on Friday.
You’re about to read a story with the best kind of twist ending.
As basketball fans know, the playoff series between the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks has been an intense nail-biter, as both teams vie for a spot in the NBA finals.
But, there’s a big difference between good-natured competitive ribbing, and the racism that was directed at Raptors superfan,, on Tuesday.
Bhatia was the target of aby a now-deleted account, @KJB30.
She was falsely accused of being racist in a video that went viral. Then some on the internet came to her rescue
A Chipotle employee was scorned online for her role in what some Twitter users decided was a racist incident. Then internet sleuths discovered the full story.
The tweet was put on blast by MP Raj Grewal, who called on Twitter to deal with the issue.
“Hey @Twitter, this tweet by @KJB30 is racist and should be removed,” Grewal tweeted on Wednesday. “There is no place for this type of language in the @NBA or on Twitter.
Grewal then extended a compassionate offer to the offending tweeter. “Also, I don’t know you @KJB30 but I welcome you to come to Toronto and meet @superfan_nav he’s one of the nicest guys in the game.”
Journalist shares incredible story about Raptors superfan Nav Bhatia
Apparently, Milwaukee fans wanted Bhatia to know the tweet didn’t speak for them, because on Friday, Bhatia tweeted a message of gratitude following the Raptors-Bucks game in Milkwaukee, which ended with Toronto taking the lead in the series:
“Thank you to all the @Bucks fans who came up to me and apologized for words someone tweeted even though you didnt have to,” he tweeted. “I know we are in a heated series, but i want everyone to know, regardless of what one person has said. Milwaukee and its fans are incredible!”
Bucks fans flocked to the post to share their love:
The story might have ended there. But, Bhatia told HuffPost Canada the man behind the tweet got in touch to apologize.
“I felt really sorry, and I felt like he hadn’t seen the world at all,” said Bhatia, about first seeing the tweet. “He was a very simple guy who had never been out of Milwaukee.”
Impressed that he had the “guts” to reach out and apologize to him, Bhatia said through a phone conversation, the two managed to work things out.
“We’ve worked a negative thing has changed into a positive thing.”
Raptors tattoos, murals and hype tracks: Canada readies for NBA Finals
Basketball fans in Canada are about to witness history — again — as Toronto's team makes its first appearance at the NBA Finals.
So much so that the two have promised to make dinner plans if Bhatia ever heads down to Milwaukee.
‘When somebody goes low, we go high’
Bhatia is practically a legend in the Toronto sports community. He hasn’t missed a Raptor’s home game since the team started playing in 1995, and often travels to away games to cheer Toronto on too. Throughout his nearly 25 years of cheering on the Raptors, he’s accumulated quite a fanbase of his own.
Which is why Bhatia said he wasn’t surprised with the outpouring of support from Raptors and Bucks fans when he responded to the tweet.
“We are Canadians. We know when somebody goes low, we go high.”
According to his website, his goal is to “unite people of all ages and backgrounds through the game of basketball.” He also has a non-profit foundation that raises money to build basketball courts and camps for kids in Canada and around the world.
Bhatia had a “humbling” start in Canada. Coming over from India with a mechanical engineering degree, his first job in the country was as a janitor. He then got his break working at a car dealership.
“The very first day that I started there, I was called the same names this guy put on Twitter,” he said.
Stress Test: Ranking every Toronto Raptors playoff series by pressure
The title is fairly self-explanatory. We’re reviewing and ranking each and every Raptors playoff series by a very important metric: Toronto’s collective sphincter tightness. Breathe deep, Raptor fans. The pressure’s off. That may seem like a funny thing to say right before the franchise’s first ever Finals appearance, but for anyone who spends time taking the temperature of the team, and the NBA eco-system around them, it’s the truth. Toronto fans are looking forward to a series for the first time since 2013. U.S. media has (mostly) gone a solid week without referencing the Raptors as “tortured”.
Besides basketball, which he calls “the best game on this planet,” Bhatia said he’s learned to deal with discrimination through conversation.
“People were angry, and I told them not to be,” he said. “Make sure to keep communication open and convert it into a different thought process — that’s what we did.”
Bhatia and rapper/6God Drake have both been reppin’ Toronto hard as the Raptors inch ever-closer to the NBA finals. If they win their next game, the team will make history by reaching the finals for the first time ever.
Though the series might be decided on Saturday, everyone who participated in this show of good sportsmanship is already a winner.
Also on HuffPost:
Canada is rooting for Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors — and his former coach says one California city is, too.
Jeff Dietz says that coaches at Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, Calif., knew that Kawhi Leonard was going to be a remarkable player. But Dietz, who is now just one of many Riverside residents rooting for the Raptors, says what really set Leonard apart was his drive.