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NBA 2019-20: 'We are going to surprise the world again,' Nav Bhatia backs Toronto Raptors for the upcoming season (Exclusive)

20 Aug 2019, 04:00 IST

Nav Bhatia soaks in that championship feeling after the Raptors beat the Warriors in six games
Nav Bhatia soaks in that championship feeling after the Raptors beat the Warriors in six games

If you're watching the Toronto Raptors play an NBA matchup, more particularly those games which take place at the Scotiabank Arena, it would be hard to not notice the ball of energy that is Nav Bhatia, cheering on his team from courtside.

The Toronto Raptors' Superfan needs little introduction to the basketball fraternity and is proudly seen donning a #95 Raptors jersey whenever he's in or around an arena, a testament to the fact that he has never missed a Raptors home game ever since first seeing the team play in 1995.

Nav Bhatia was in India recently to talk about the NBA India Games 2019. He talked at length about what the viewers in India can expect from the two preseason games that will be played between the Indiana Pacers and the Sacramento Kings on October 4th and 5th at Dome @ NSCI in Mumbai, India. You can check out that conversation here.

It's impossible to talk to Mr. Bhatia and not bring up the Toronto Raptors. He spared some time as we at Sportskeeda spoke to him about the reigning NBA Champions. Here are some excerpts from that conversation:

The official season kickstarts on 22nd October. The Raptors will be ushering in a new era against a team that will also be starting a new era of their own in the form of New Orleans Pelicans with Zion Williamson. What are your expectations from that game and what do you think should be the approach of the Raptors?

It's everybody else versus the champions now. So we will see what they do. We are champions and we are going to play like champions.

This offseason, the team lost a huge part of that title-winning core in Kawhi Leonard, but you have a piece in Pascal Siakam who is just waiting to show the world that he can lead a team. What are your expectations from him?

Well, let me tell you, he's going to be an All-Star. He's going to be an All-Star with his energy, his work ethic, and his talent. But you are going to see a lot of other players. O.G. [Anunoby] is going to show up, and we have Stanley Johnson who just came. Yea, he has not been able to have that great of a season. But knowing him well, he's going to have a breakout season this year.

We still have 9 of the same players who were in the championship run. We are still the same core of 9 players.

These are all NBA players. Yea, some of them are as the media likes to call them, superstars. But this is a team sport. It's a team that wins or loses the games. So we play it as a team. Yes, very good player [Kawhi], I agree with that. And LeBron was a very good player with Cleveland but he wasn't able to win a championship [alone]. So it's a team sport.

You have had the opportunity of observing the teams from a closer perspective. Could you explain what the feeling is like when the game is on the line and you are playing for the championship?

It is very tense. You see the game in Golden State, the sixth game. It was so tense. If Fred VanVleet wouldn't have shown up in the fourth quarter towards the end of the game with the three-pointers, we would have gone to the seventh game and then who knows what happens?

There were a lot of good breaks, we got the away wins. We had Marc Gasol playing so good, we had everybody showing up, we had Danny Green showing up. Kawhi was Kawhi. He is amazing, no doubt. Kawhi is an amazing player.

But we are going to move forward. I think we are going to surprise the world again with our rapid game and move into the playoffs this coming season.

We thank Nav Bhatia for his time and wish him and the Toronto Raptors all the best for the upcoming NBA season.

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