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Under Review

Instead of attempting to present a comprehensive history, The Team That Changed the World, a fantastic new documentary (PBS, Feb. 24, 9 p.m., or check local listings) on the Harlem Globetrotters, sticks to the years 1948 through '51, when the Globetrotters grew from an amusing barnstorming team into an international phenomenon. Henry Kissinger talks about them as ambassadors. (In '51 they went behind the Iron Curtain to East Berlin at the behest of the State Department.) Bill Cosby and Sen. Barack Obama talk about how the team gave hope and pride to African-Americans. "When the Globetrotters came and beat the white people," says Cosby, "that was wonderful." Phil Jackson, Larry Brown and Ray Meyer discuss the 'Trotters pure basketball genius and the impact their flashy play has on today's game. Indeed Team persuasively argues that without the Globetrotters the NBA would never have gotten off the ground. They routinely played doubleheaders with NBA teams--and usually beat them fair and square. There is little doubt which squad was putting the fans in the seats; Bob Cousy recounts how the crowd thinned by half after the Globetrotters' game ended. Observes one commentator, "The Globetrotters meant more to the NBA than the NBA meant to the Globetrotters." --M.B.