Let me set the scene for the all new HBO series “Ballers.” Spencer Strassmore, played by “The Rock”, is out to make a name as a financial adviser to NFL ballers. Strassmore is a former player who has a circle of friends still in the game that he needs as clients. Dude is a nice guy that doesn’t want to be too pushy getting his crew to come on board with his company. He best get more aggressive if he wants to make an actual living before all his knucklehead buddies go broke though.
The opening scene is probably close to a real morning for a former NFL player as Spencer eats some pills just after dragging his aching body out of bed. The flashbacks we see from Spencer are from his playing days and thankfully actual NFL teams are used in the series. No made up teams and uniforms so the NFL is on board with the show apparently. That could be good and bad. We all remember how the NFL pressured ESPN to cancel “Playmakers” when the League felt they were being shown in a bad light.
Tragedy strikes early when a former Rookie of the Year is killed in a car wreck. His psycho mistress, aka skank, causes the crash when she gets pissed at his refusal to leave his wife for her. Spencer ends up speaking at the funeral which is full of “funeral hoes” according to his buddy Ricky Jerret who plays for the Packers.
Spencer has been working as a financial adviser for just one year and is being pressured by his manager named Joe, played by Rob Corddry, to use his connections to add more clients. Spencer has to deal with lots of drama along with that pressure. There’s the client who needs a small loan of $300K, his friend Ricky Jerret who finds trouble at every turn, and his buddy Charles Greane who is just lucky to get hired as a car salesman.
Greane’s wife played by Jazmyn Simon has some great lines and could wind up one of the best characters on the show. She warns her husband about too much free time and whores being a big cause of death among ballers, pointing to his friend that was killed in the car wreck.
The show is going to resemble “Entourage” a great deal with all the partying. We see how Ricky Jerret likes to get down when he tags a hot lady (in branding I believe), in the restroom. The hot headed Ricky gets hooked by a random dude outside the bathroom and beats him down only to hear the guy say, “get the checkbook ready.” This is the number one reason pro athletes should not go to public parties. Lawsuits are around every corner at places like this. STDs in the bathroom are also a great reason to party at home instead.
Spencer has a heart to heart with Ricky when he sees that the Packers may trade him because of the bad publicity. Ricky says he will retire if they send him to Jacksonville. Spencer laughs in his face as he knows that’s a lie. Few NFL players can use the threat of quitting if they don’t like their situation. What are they going to do to generate that same money? Nothing! They are going to take their ass to work on that football field, no matter what city they are forced to play in. Ricky gets the advice he needs from Spencer, “Wise the fuck up and grow up.”
It’s a bit unrealistic that the Packers end up cutting a guy who had 80 catches the previous season, but hey it’s TV. Ricky gets a chance with the Dolphins after a few calls are made by Spencer and Jason the agent. Charles Greane also puts in the good word for his friend Ricky.
By the way, Charles’ first day of work at the car dealer had his wife thinking his “fat ass had been abducted” when she didn’t find him lounging on the couch.
Ricky’s vulgar prayer shows us that he doesn’t “get it,” and is a real knucklehead. He ends up being one minute late for his meeting with the Dolphins’ coach and as a bonus gets called an asshole by Don Shula. Jerret shows some grit as he waits all day for the guys to return from the fishing trip. So the coach gives him a shot, but knows he will likely regret it.
The first episode wraps up with Spencer coming through with the big loan for one of his clients. The guy has leaches living with him that he doesn’t even know so that $300K will be gone soon and Spencer won’t ever benefit from this guy as a client. Spencer is nearly broke too as we see his ATM visit go horribly.
I would say that “Ballers” could be an entertaining way for young athletes to learn about the perils of fame and fortune. But I know better. Young athletes will only see the fancy cars, hot skanks, and big jewelry. They will pay little attention to the retired guys having to work as car salesmen. “That won’t be me,” I can hear them now.
This show has lots of promise simply because Dwayne Johnson is the lead. I lost interest in action films long ago since they all were about the same with the hero always winning in the end. However, almost every movie that Johnson appears in I end up liking a lot. The guy is just plain entertaining and has the “it factor” of course.
I loved “Entourage” back in the day, even when it got a bit redundant. It was just a fun show to follow. Watching a circle of friends climb the Hollywood ladder made Entourage enjoyable for me. I am hoping for the same thing with Ballers. I know “The Rock” will deliver. It remains to be seen if his supporting crew can hold up their end of the bargain like all the guys from Entourage did.