Nav Bhatia hasn’t missed a Toronto Raptors game ever since he started attending games in 1995.
Now, the Raptors superfan will be forever memorialized in the new gallery at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, according to an announcement by Hall of Fame chairman Jerry Colangelo Friday during the start of NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago.
“Can’t say this is a dream come true because this isn’t something you dream about as a fan,” Bhatia tweeted. “To be honoured into the @Hoophall as the first honouree into the Superfan Gallery. What an incredible day. Don’t wake me up please. Thank you to the Hall and the @Raptors organization.”
“For all you’ve done for the sport in Canada there is no one more deserving,” the Raptors organization tweeted from their official Twitter.
The Hall of Fame will be opening the superfan gallery later this year, a spokesperson for the hall told CNN Saturday.
Bhatia gained international attention last year during the NBA Finals when it was found he hadn’t missed a game since 1995, meaning he’s gone to every game in person. The Raptors won the title last year against the Golden State Warriors, making them the first team outside the United States to win the NBA Finals.
But Bhatia’s story begins in 1984 when he sought refuge in Canada after anti-Sikh riots in India, according to CNN’s Great Big Story. After becoming a car salesman and working his way up to owning a dealership, Bhatia found another refuge: basketball.
Since becoming the Raptors’ superfan, he’s hung out with the likes of Drake, been thanked personally by Kobe Bryant and has become something of a celebrity, himself, taking photos with fans occasionally at the Scotiabank Arena.
Bhatia has started his own nonprofit organization that raises money to build basketball courts and camps for kids in Canada and across the globe, according to Great Big Story.