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Ramsay's life celebrated at his funeral

NAPLES, Fla. (AP) Jack Ramsay's trophy case resembled his life - both were full.

With friends and family simultaneously mourning and celebrating his life, the Basketball Hall of Famer and NBA championship-winning coach was remembered at his funeral Mass on Thursday as someone endlessly devoted to his family, fitness and faith. He died on Monday at the age of 89, after fighting cancer in many forms for the final 15 years of his life.

Chris Ramsay delivered his father's eulogy, calling him "a basketball genius."

"His teams were an extension of himself," Chris Ramsay said. "They were smart and they outworked the opponent. He taught a team game, where sharing and giving was required. His game, when executed properly by the right personnel, was unbeatable. ... His trophy case collapsed under the weight of all the awards."

Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra, Billy Cunningham, Bob McAdoo, Phil Martelli and former referee Bob Delaney were among those attending from the basketball world, along with former coach Jim O'Brien, Ramsay's son-in-law.

Many broadcasting colleagues of the man best known as "Dr. Jack" were also at the funeral, inside St. John the Evangelist Church in southwest Florida.

"Basketball royalty," McAdoo said.

But the overriding theme of the funeral was not basketball. It was faith.

A devout Catholic, Ramsay would routinely find early morning Mass to attend in cities that his broadcast work took him to before hopping onto a flight to either head back home or call a game in another city. At his family's annual reunion last year, Ramsay rose from his seat at the head of a table and urged his children and grandchildren to take their faith more seriously.

"My dad was special in so many ways," Chris Ramsay said. "He was a multi-faceted man with many interesting sides to his personality and life. He had many names. He was John T. Ramsay, Coach Ramsay, Jack Ramsay, Dr. Jack, Dad and Pop. Each personality added to and complemented the other, each forming and shaping the other into one unbelievable man."

Jack Ramsay's life, by any measure, was complete. His name adorned the marquee at Madison Square Garden, he was considered a founding father of "Big 5" college basketball in Philadelphia, he led a team headlined by Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas and Lionel Hollins to the Portland Trail Blazers to the 1977 NBA title, he was known for his fashion sense as a coach, he drove powerful sports cars and even picked up surfing and golf along the way.

But those flashy things never overshadowed his simpler side. Ramsay's wife died in 2010 after a long fight with Alzheimer's disease, and long after she stopped even understanding who he was most of the time, Ramsay kept holding her hand, feeding her and trying to ease her fears and confusions in any way he could.

"We're celebrating the life of a child of God and a man of faith," said Fr. John J. Ludden, the church's pastor.

Jack Ramsay was 864-783 in his NBA coaching career, was honored in 1996 as one of the league's top 10 all-time coaches, plus posted a 234-72 record with seven NCAA tournament appearances at Saint Joseph's, his alma mater.

Chris Ramsay, who worked alongside his father at ESPN in recent years, saw firsthand how much respect his father commanded by those in the game.

"You were eager when he called and you paid attention," Chris Ramsay said. "You waited for directions, for inspiration, a pearl of wisdom, a piece of advice. He's not here to call your name out loud any longer, but I guarantee you will do something soon that was inspired by Jack Ramsay. He will move you. He will call your name again, and you will listen."

Richard Petty upset over Ambrose' $25,000 fine

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) Marcos Ambrose says he understands the $25,000 fine NASCAR levied against him for punching Casey Mears in the face.

"I got myself in a bad situation, didn't I?" Ambrose said during an appearance at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "I caused an action that NASCAR needed to reprimand, so I'm happy to pay it, and I'm happy to move on. It's a heavy fine. It's the biggest fine I've ever received in racing. I think that NASCAR needed to do something."

His car owner wholeheartedly disagrees.

Richard Petty argued Thursday that Ambrose shouldn't be fined for defending himself in the post-race altercation at Richmond on Saturday night, and said he plans to discuss the penalty with NASCAR officials.

Mears was fined $15,000 after he angrily approached Ambrose and shoved the Australian when Ambrose appeared to be walking away. Ambrose replied with a hard right to Mears' face that drew blood near his eye.

Ambrose is not appealing and said he will pay the fine.

"No way he should have been fined," Petty said. "What I seen on the TV was that he was trying to get away. The boy kept pushing and shoving and he was trying to get away and finally got cornered and had to come out of that. Is NASCAR saying, `OK, just lay there and get the tar beat out of you, we won't fine you, we'll fine the other guy?' I don't know what their rationale was."

Ambrose does agree with Petty that he was defending himself after Mears shoved him.

"I don't apologize for my actions," said Ambrose. "I was just standing up for myself and my team and my family and letting people know that you can't get in my private space like that and expect to not have any consequences. ... As soon as he grabbed hold of me there, I knew I was going to have to get a shot in. I was just waiting for the right moment."

Ambrose finished 18th in Saturday night's race and Mears was 19th. They were far enough back from the leaders that television cameras got no footage of their on-track battle for position and what led to the altercation remains a mystery.

Ambrose insisted Thursday he was never angry with Mears, and was actually on his way to speak to David Gilliland about something that had occurred on the track.

"I was confused about why Casey was so annoyed at me, and I think you can just see a lot of the passion that the drivers have and the commitment we have to try to win these races and try to run up front," Ambrose said. "That passion kind of got out of hand and got out of control pretty quick. Once he put his hand on me and started pushing me around, I was just trying to stand up for myself and my country and my family and my reputation."

As for the punch, which knocked Mears' hat from atop his head, Ambrose said: "I was actually fairly lucid in my thoughts and was able to get a good punch off because I wasn't bound up with too much adrenaline."

Crosby, Getzlaf, Giroux finalists for Hart Trophy

NEW YORK (AP) Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf and Philadelphia's Claude Giroux are finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy.

The NHL announced the finalists Thursday for the trophy, which essentially serves as the league's MVP award. The Professional Hockey Writers' Association submits ballots.

Crosby scored 36 goals and led the league in assists (68) and points (104), guiding the Penguins to their second consecutive division title.

Getzlaf scored a career-high 31 goals and ranked second in the League with 87 points, leading the Ducks to the top record in the Western Conference for the first time in franchise history.

Giroux matched a career high with 28 goals and finished third in the NHL scoring race (86 points), helping the Flyers rally from a 3-9-0 start.

The winner will be announced June 24.

Ravens' Rice is 'ashamed, sorry' for assault case

MAYS LANDING, N.J. (AP) Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice pleaded not guilty Thursday to assault charges stemming from an incident with his then-girlfriend in an Atlantic City casino elevator. His lawyer said Rice is "ashamed" and "sorry" about his conduct but would not specify exactly what Rice did.

After the five-minute court hearing, Rice applied for New Jersey's pretrial intervention program, which allows for charges to be dismissed against first-time offenders who participate in the program and meet certain conditions. The county prosecutor will decide whether Rice is allowed to enter the program.

If not, prosecutors have offered Rice a plea bargain that would spare him jail time if he participates in anger management counseling.

"He's ashamed of his conduct and he's sorry for what he did," attorney Michael Diamondstein told reporters outside the courthouse.

"There was a disagreement between him and his wife," Diamondstein said. "He made a mistake. He loves Janay and wants to move forward. This was a momentary lapse of reason."

Security video obtained by TMZ Sports shows Rice removing the motionless body of Janay Palmer from an elevator at Revel Hotel Casino on Feb. 15. She did not comment as the two walked into the courthouse.

The couple married a day after Rice was indicted.

If convicted, Rice could face three to five years in prison.

The former Rutgers star walked to the courthouse holding hands with Palmer. He said he is a "happy father and a happy husband." When asked by reporters what he hoped would happen, Rice responded, "for you all to have a blessed day."

Originally, Palmer and Rice were charged with simple assault, but the Atlantic County prosecutor's office reviewed the case and dropped the charge against Palmer. A grand jury lodged the more serious charge of aggravated assault against Rice.

Through her lawyer, Palmer has indicated she does not want the case to proceed. But prosecutor Diane Ruberton said Palmer's cooperation is not crucial to it.

"I'm confident with the evidence we have that I could secure a conviction at trial, with or without her," Ruberton said.

She said prosecutors have additional video evidence beyond what was published by the website, but she would not describe its contents.

Ruberton said Rice's celebrity played no role in the case, adding that plea deals are routinely offered to defendants charged with third-degree crimes, as is the case with Rice.

Diamondstein said he expects a decision on whether Rice will be allowed into pretrial intervention within the next few weeks.

"He's an excellent candidate for it," he said. "He's just a high-character individual. He's a good guy."

The conditions of pretrial intervention would include staying out of trouble for a year, as well as undergoing counseling and remaining gainfully employed, the attorney said.

"They've been going to counseling and working on some of the issues they have," Diamondstein said. "They're very happy."

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Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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