Stephen A. Smith isn't a fan of Nav Bhatia's Hall of Fame induction

Toronto Raptors superfan Nav Bhatia has been immortalized in basketball history after being inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame’s inaugural superfan gallery on May 15, making him one of the first fans to have received this honour.

As Toronto celebrated Bhatia’s historic moment, the sentiment wasn’t as well-received by everyone within the basketball community as ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith criticized the decision to induct fans into the Hall of Fame.

“How do we define what a great fan is? You’re a Hall of Famer, how is that defined exactly?” he said. “What’s the criteria? What’s the standard?”

Smith elaborated further by questioning the determining factors when it comes to bestowing a fan with that honour - whether it’s the amount of games attended, who they interacted with or the passion displayed towards opposing teams.

Bhatia's commitment isn’t just to the Raptors, but to the community as well. In 2018, he established the Nav Bhatia Superfan Foundation, which is dedicated to building and resurfacing basketball courts across Canada while uniting kids of all backgrounds through the enjoyment and game of basketball.

Since attending the team’s first game in 1995, Bhatia has been synonymous with the Raptors and has never missed a home game over the franchise’s 26 years of existence. In 1999, he was dubbed the Raptors’ Superfan by two-time NBA Champion and former Raptors executive vice president Isiah Thomas, who presented Bhatia with a customized jersey that bore the title of “Superfan.”

Bhatia’s years of support and dedication paid off when the Raptors captured their first championship title in franchise history after defeating the Golden State Warriors in 2019. He was named grand marshal of the championship parade and became the first fan to receive an NBA championship ring as well.

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