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SUMMER PRO LEAGUE: RECRUITING TO KEEP GLOBETROTTERS ON TOP.

Byline: Sean Kearns Staff Writer

LONG BEACH - The Harlem Globetrotters beat the NBA champion Lakers.

It happened and the Lakers had the most dominant center of the era. Of course, that was more than 50 years ago, the Lakers were in Minneapolis and George Mikan was the center. In 1948, the Harlem Globetrotters defeated the Lakers 61-59. They followed that up with a 49-45 win a year later. Since then, the Globetrotters became one of the most recognizable names in the world - as basketball entertainers.

But it's the goal of returning to that level of competition that brought Globetrotters coach Joby Wright to the bleachers of the Pyramid at the Summer Pro League on Monday.

``I think there is a misconception about the Globetrotters,'' said Wright, who wore a red polo shirt embroidered with a red, white and blue basketball. ``We're still going to be entertaining. But we're going to reestablish ourselves as one of the most competitive teams in the world.''

Wright, who has more than 20 years of coaching experience, was hired by the Globetrotters two years ago to re-establish the Globetrotters as a well-respected team in basketball circles. His title is head coach and director of competitive play. In other words, he coaches the Globetrotters games that mean something.

Those games come more often now. This summer the Globetrotters will play competitive games against the national teams from Brazil and Argentina, the fifth- and sixth-place finishers at the 2000 Olympics as well as the national teams from Russia and Lithuania.

This fall, Wright plans 10 games against high-profile collegiate programs. The Globetrotters already have games lined up against Duke, Wake Forest, St. John's and Kentucky.

Last year, the Globetrotters played Michigan State, Purdue and Division II champion Metro State. The only loss was by four points to Michigan State, a Final Four team. At the 2001 Final Four, the Globetrotters defeated a group of college all-stars 75-63 at the NABC Roundball Challenge.

``We're not here to show up, we're here to win,'' said Wright, who played at Indiana from 1968-72 and was an assistant to Bobby Knight from 1980-90. ``We're not in it to be competitive. We're in it to win.''
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 24, 2001
Words:364
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