When a Milwaukee Bucks fan went low, Toronto Raptors’ superfan Nav Bhatia went high — really high.
Bhatia, whose Sikh turban (also known as a dastar) was the subject of a racist tweet by the fan during the May semifinals, flew down to Milwaukee last Saturday (Nov. 2) and took the man and his 11 year-old-son out for dinner and then to the Buck-Raptors game.
The two had previously spoken on the phone when the fan — who has since deleted his Twitter account @KJB30 — apologized to Bhatia — a hugely successful car dealership owner.
“He told me, ‘Please forgive me,’ and admitted (his) mistake,” Bhatia told The Sun.
“He said, ‘I didn’t know about the Sikhs. I didn’t know about you guys (wearing dastars).’ He said, ‘I’m really, really sorry about it.’ So I said, ‘I’ll forgive you on one condition, that you have dinner with me before the game in Milwaukee. And I’m going to take you to a game in Milwaukee, you and your son.’”
Bhatia said they had “a nice friendly dinner,” and then went to the game where he arranged for the man’s 11-year-old son to meet and take a photo with his favourite Milwaukee player Brook Lopez.
“We had a nice time but (during the game) I sat them further away, a little bit of a different area, to keep his privacy.”
Afterwards, Bhatia posted a photo of himself between two Bucks players Kyle Korner and Lopez on his Instagram account, navbhatiasuperfan, and wrote: “My guests had a great time and thank you to @themeccamke for hosting us before and after the game. Special shoutout to my boys @kkorv26 And @brooklopez, @gustogummi88 aka Robin Lopez for taking the time to meet my guests and giving a young boy bragging rights for at least a year at his school.”
Bhatia said, for now, the Milwaukee fan who lives in a small town about two hours away from the Bucks’ arena with his wife and son, wishes to keep his anonymity.
“Because he don’t want anybody bugging him,” said Bhatia.
“So, you know, very good people, very good with his young son, sports-oriented, and (an) amazing family. And I give kudos to them for being so brave. You know asking for forgiveness is sometimes bigger than giving forgiveness. Basically, at the end of the night we hugged each other. And then he told me, ‘Mr. Bhatia, we are friends forever. For life!’ So it was all very good. It was a negative story turning into a positive story. And that’s what I like to do, turn negativity into positivity.”
Bhatia says they are planning to get together again in the summer with an invite for the man to come to Toronto to see a game but first he has to get his passport.
“He has never travelled outside his residence,” said Bhatia.