For most Cavaliers fans Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semi-finals was a punch in the gut but for one fan it was the thrill of a lifetime.
For 29 years Raymond Towler’s only connection with the Cavaliers was through a 13 inch television he got to watch games on while in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
Finally DNA evidence proved what Raymond had long claimed that he was indeed an innocent man.
On May 5th a judge overturned his conviction and for the first time in nearly three decades Ray Towler was a free man.
When the Cavaliers learned what Raymond had been through and how much of a fan he was they invited him, his brother and two sisters to be their guests for Game 5 with seats directly behind the Cavaliers bench.
Then later as the above photos show Shaquille O’Neal let Raymond stand in for him in the Cavs lineup during the national anthem taking the big guys place between Zydrunas Ilgauskas and J.J. Hickson.
Unfortunately for Raymond it was all down hill from there.
When LeBron came out for his pre-game warmups his first shot on the floor was a slam dunk… he missed it. My immediate reaction was uh oh.
Then game a couple of swishes and when he went to take his half court underhanded shots he did so right-handed again which I thought was a good sign that the elbow was going to be an issue.
LeBron would end the night shooting 3 for 14 from the floor, 0 for 4 from 3-point range in his worst playoff showing since joining the Association.
Shaq led all Cavs scorers but was clearly subdued after the game.
Following the Cavs Game 2 loss to the Celtics at home a more light hearted Shaq said “it’s not how you start a date, it’s how you finish the date.”
After Game 5 though Shaq had the look of a someone who was stood up altogether.
He’s been in this position before though and said he simply told the guys “we gotta win two.”