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Meet the Sikh superfan who spurred the multicultural identity of the Toronto Raptors

Diversity and inclusivity - organisations everywhere preach it but few deliver quite like the NBA Finals-bound Toronto Raptors.

The Canadian franchise has one man to thank for that cultural development though – and he happens to be one of the most famous Raptors fans there is.

But the story of 67-year-old Sikh immigrant Nav Bhatia didn’t start off positively.

"I was going to a phone place to get my phone fixed and there was a guy, a white guy sitting there and he was talking to someone,” Bhatia told 1 NEWS.

"As soon as I walked in, he says, 'honey, I got to go, my cab is here'. So, what he thought was that I was a cab driver."

Since arriving from India, the last 35 years have been about breaking down barriers for Bhatia. After all - how many other Sikh superfans have you seen in North American sports?

But for Bhatia, the Raptors are his pride and joy.

"I have never missed a minute of a game in 24 years."

In the same spot for more than a thousand home games, he's now the face of the team and that cab driver misunderstanding inspired him to buy 3,000 tickets for youth as a way to bridge the gap between cultures.

"I brought people of all colours, faith, religion so that our people can integrate with the other people at a younger stage, at a younger age."

It transformed the Raptors, which introduced multicultural nights - with you know who at the centre of it.

They now have one of the most culturally diverse fan bases with a playing roster to match it.

"That's how our team is," Nigeria-born general manager Masai Ujiri said.

"They talk in different languages on defence, they talk different languages in the locker room and it's like that in our organisation."


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