ballers

[photo: HBO]

So what would the world be like if The Rock was a washed-up football star? It would be like the new HBO show Ballers, I guess! And what is Ballers exactly? Well, kind of boring, to be honest, but if you didn’t already know Dwayne Johnson was made of muscles, then at least you learned something during this episode.

The pilot opens with said muscles as The Rock aka Spencer Strassmore has flashbacks to his glory days playing for the Miami Dolphins. Fun football fact #1: the Dolphins were my favorite NFL team between first and fourth grades, because, guess what? Dolphins were my favorite animal. Fun fact #2: Johnson played for the University of Miami but a back injury kept him from playing NFL.

Meanwhile, Spencer’s former football pal, Rodney, is having a heart-to-heart with a pretty lady in his car as they zoom through Miami. Please note: Rodney is wearing a fur vest in this scene. Well played, Wardrobe Department! This woman is very curious about whether Rodney really loves her the most and would do anything for her. You know, things like maybe even leave his wife. This gal is so dedicated to Rodney that she would even kill herself for him. Crazy, right? Well, she means it, and moments later they both die in a car crash.

Spencer gives a heartfelt eulogy, in which he relives a pass he dropped (sports!) and the resulting teachable moment courtesy of Rodney, who taught him a life lesson. Or something. Most people are pretty bored at this memorial service from the looks of it. Afterwards, Spencer chats with Rodney’s wife, Tina. Fun adultery fact: Tina informs us that the woman in the car with Rodney was named “That Bitch Kim.” More importantly, Tina tells Spencer that Rodney didn’t even have a will. It’s like, get organized, am I right?

Tina, also a fan of life lessons and teachable moments, reminds Spencer that he is “a grown-ass man,” and that he should probably “figure his shit out.” This must be the “reinvent” the tagline of the series was talking about!

To Spencer, “reinventing” means “becoming a financial advisor/business manager.” However, he’s learning the hard way that success at a financial firm isn’t measured solely in fancy shirts and sports-star friends. Oh, no. As his boss, Joe, played by funnyman Rob Cordry explains, you have to deliver, read: “monetize your friendships.” The pressure is on.

And just who are Spencer’s friends? They aren’t all dead thanks to jealous mistresses, right? Here are who seem to be his three best buds as far as the plot of this TV show is concerned:

  • Ricky (John David Washington), a star receiver and general football bad boy, who is cut by the Green Bay Packers after getting in a fight with a guy in a bar, after taking too long in the bathroom because he was having sex with a girl he’d just met. Typical bad boy stuff! Don’t worry about Ricky, though. After proving his dedication to the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, they decide to sign him, putting Ricky and Spencer back in the same city. Great!
  • Charles (Omar Benson Miller), a retired offensive lineman who gets a job at a Chevrolet dealership and is married to a woman who still reads the actual paper newspaper.
  • Vernon (Donovan W. Carter), a surely talented football star who blew right through a $12 million signing bonus and has lots of mooching family, some of which he doesn’t even know. But here they are in his house!
  • Jason (Troy Garity), a fancy sports agent who represents Ricky, and once represented The Rock. He is very agenty. What else do you want to know?

The good news for Spencer is that both Ricky and Vernon could use some help with their finances say “OK sure, whatever” to being signed on as his clients.

The bad news for Spencer is that he loaned Vernon $300,000 to pay for all that family Vernon doesn’t even know and when he tries to take some cash out of an ATM, the screen reads, “insufficient funds.” Uh oh! The stage is set! Get ready for a crazy ride of a season full of antics probably!

Other observations that might become important:

  • Spencer was maybe taking some prescription pills while just waiting for his driver or whatever. The Rock, be careful! Some pills are habit forming!
  • If you are a football star, you can just go right out and buy an elephant, I guess. Hopefully this creature will make a cameo appearance! The Rock, can you hear my prayers?
  • Charles said “assumptious,” my new favorite adjective.
  • There were only four exposed female nipples in this 22 minute episode. What will next week bring?!