There is no entertainer in the world more charismatic and enthusiastic than Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Initially known for his work in the wrestling world, Dwayne Johnson has grown into one of the biggest actors in the world. While he breaks box office records with his action films (Jumanji, Fast & The Furious), Johnson has quietly established himself as a powerhouse actor in the TV series Ballers. Ballers is a sports dramedy that stars Dwayne Johnson and Rob Corddry as two financial advisors trying to make it big in the fast-paced, competitive world of professional sports. With a slew of famous athletes appearing on the show, Ballers has quickly become a hit. With season 3 finished and season 4 on the horizon, now is a great time to look back on what has happened so far in one of HBO’s finest programs.
Ballers Season 1 – Meet Spencer Strasmore.
We leap into the world of Ballers by heading to Miami where we meet Spencer Strasmore (Dwayne Johnson) and Joe Krutel (Rob Corddry), a pair of would-be financial advisors to some of the big up-and-comers in the NFL. Strasmore is a former Miami Dolphins player, much like Johnson himself, and he’s eager to prove himself as capable of helping his friends — Charles Greane (Omar Miller), Vernon Littlefield (Donovan Carter) and Ricky Jerret (John David Washington) make it in the NFL. This small group of characters is as diverse in personality and plot as they are in physical appearance. Strasmore is a former NFL star who is dealing with frequent headaches and the urge to prove himself in a post-football world. Strasmore spends much of the first season trying to establish himself as an agent, and not just a former player who is friends with his clients. Rob Corddry is, as usual, hilarious in a squirmy sort of way as Joe Krutel of Anderson Financial. Krutel acts as a mentor to Strasmore, though he struggles to fit in with the world of athletics. Ricky Jerret is a rising star who has to balance his competitive nature with his emotional outbursts, causing a ton of trouble along the way. Vernon Littlefield gets to play a huge role in season 1 as a constant source of comic relief. Finally, Charles Greane is a likable athlete who is trying to make it back into the league. Now that we know our main players, what actually happens to each of them during Season 1?
The first season of Ballers is all about new fish navigating a larger ocean. Spencer is a hulking former superstar looking to gain respect in an industry that is completely foreign to him. Fortunately, Spencer ends up meeting Joe Krutel who eventually brings Spencer on board as an advisor, making it clear that he is being hired due to his connections. Without much in the way of mutual respect, Joe and Spencer are immediately seen as a fairly odd couple. For his part, Spencer immediately plumbs the depths of his connections as he works to sign Vernon Littlefield to a deal. Vernon, who we quickly learn is a problematic character with more ego and charisma than common sense, clashes with Reggie — a money-handler and childhood friend of Spencer. This problem plants the seeds of distrust between the three men and it’s a problem that lingers throughout the season. Spencer’s primary arc revolves around his relationship with a local anchor, Tracy, and his own personal health. Struggling with constant migraines, Spencer eventually relents and takes an MRI…where he is cleared of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The headaches get worse, metaphorically, as Spencer is thrust into the role of “babysitting’’ to a bunch of spoiled athletes. He helps Vernon avoid blackmail by paying off the threat. He crashes his car and reconnects with a former NFL adversary, played by the always-amazing Michael Cudlitz, and this is probably the highlight of Spencer’s season 1 arc.
Ricky’s Temper And Charles Return.
Elsewhere, we get to learn about a few disparate personalities in the form of future star Ricky Jerret and the humble Charles Greane. Jerret is as athletic as he is talkative and problems are never far behind him. Right out of the gate, we see Jerret’s hot-headed attitude on display as he gets into a huge fight at a nightclub. Jerret loses his roster spot with the Green Bay Packers but is eventually signed by the Dolphins, where more problems await. Jerret mixes it up with Alonzo, who has stolen Jerret’s jersey number. This number is important to Jerret, as is soon revealed in an interview with Jay Glazer, as it has everything to do with his nonexistent father. Ricky faces other issues with his girlfriend Bella and frequent public outbursts dot his entire arc in the first season before culminating with a reconnection with his father.
While Ricky is out partying, Charles is operating in an entirely different way. Having retired from football at an early age, Charles works at a car dealership where he struggles and predictably begins to start thinking about football again. Despite the occasional exciting flare up, such as when a drunken party turns into a problematic ‘sexting’ escapade, He’s struggling with his marriage and continues to make poor decisions — such as parting with Ricky. Ricky ends up helping Charles get back into the game after putting together a motivational video to remind Charles of his glory days. The trick works and the two enter training camp with the Miami Dolphins and, as a bonus, Charles reconciles with his wife- who reveals she is pregnant”. The highlight of Charles’ arc is when, before quitting his job as a salesman, he moves a car in neutral all by himself.
Joe & The Yacht Cause Trouble.
Season 1 for Joe Krutel is as up and down as it gets. Joe works hard to develop himself while trying to connect with athletes who could not be more unlike him. Joe is instrumental in creating a huge corporate party on their bosses’ private yacht, which obviously goes too far. The yacht is trashed and Joe wakes up on top of a cake, in the middle of the seas. Despite his terrible hangover, Joe doesn’t slow down and is instrumental in helping young Vernon get out of a potential blackmailing situation. Despite his good intentions, Joe’s private yacht disaster ends up costing him his job. Joe trashes his office and tries to get Spencer to start a new firm with him. Spencer, who refuses to bail on his partner, isn’t quite ready to jump ship. Still, Spencer puts a stake in the ground and he tells their boss, Mr. Anderson, that he won’t continue without Joe by his side.
The season ends with Charles & Ricky as teammates in Miami while Vernon celebrates a new contract to the tune of $21 million in guaranteed money. Joe, Spencer, Reggie and the group of football stars are all on the upswing as Season 2 premieres.
Ballers Season 2 – Rival Agents At Play
With Ballers Season 1 laying the groundwork of the financial world of professional football, Season 2 amps up the intensity and puts drama at the forefront of the experience. We kick off the new season in style with Spencer appearing on Glazed and Confused, a talk show hosted by real-life analyst Jay Glazer. On the show, Spencer confronts Terrell Suggs, a former rival, and real-life NFL star. The two mix it up verbally before coming to blows due to an old feud that originated on (guess where) Twitter. Suggs is being represented by this season’s Big Daddy – Andre (Andy Garcia). Andre is Strasmore’s former agent and one of the best in the entire business. It’s clear early-on that Strasmore and Andre are going to butt heads and that Strasmore wants to one-up his former partner. Elsewhere, Ricky Jerret connects with Suggs in order to help get some insight for Strasmore to exploit. Strasmore’s mission is to poach all of Andre’s clients. This will be tough.
Moving on, Strasmore wakes up worse for wear and immediately reaches for his favorite pill bottle — quickly swallowing a pair of them down. Struggling to get through his pain and increasingly pushing the focus toward substance abuse, Strasmore is given the chance to win Suggs over from Andre thanks to the work that Ricky has put in. Joe and Spencer argue about taking on Suggs, considering the fact that they aren’t certified to do so. Suggs, however, makes them commit to it via telling the pair to notify Andre themselves. Yikes! Joe and Spencer end up doing just that, meeting up with Andre and stealing his client directly in front of him. This won’t go well. While this drama is unfolding, Vernon and Reggie take a trip to go play paintball which, predictably, goes wrong. Reggie, jealous by how much Vernon is paying him, ends up shooting Vernon and causing the NFL star to be injured.
Spencer & Charles Struggle, Ricky Comes Out On Top.
Things aren’t all bad for the Ballers crew. Ricky gets to shop for a new house thanks to his new contract, and Charles is integrating himself back into the game, quickly becoming a fan favorite. Of course, Vernon’s injury is the center of our focus and Spencer advises his client to stay quiet about how he hurt himself. While this is going on, Spencer and Joe come to verbal blows as they struggle to find a middle ground in advising their suddenly growing business. Did we mention that things were going well for Charles? Well, they aren’t. Despite fanfare and a few great speeches, Charles is soon dropped from the roster and after an emotional outburst toward his former boss, he is promptly re-hired as an executive. We guess outbursts of this sort of work.
Mr. Anderson continues to be tough as nails on the dynamic duo of Spencer & Joe and he, of course, has every right to be. Spencer’s big signing, outside of Suggs, had been Miami Dolphins’ star Ndamukong Suh… who promptly exits the roster after Andre poaches him. Womp, womp. That doesn’t mean that Joe and Spencer are out of luck because a wildly talented and potentially dangerous potential 1st round pick appears in the form of “Cajun Travis”. Travis is incredibly talented but unhinged and we can’t help but draw some Johnny Manziel parallels. Spencer whips the kid into shape during a lifting session at a tiny Miami gym. While Spencer may have gotten a win here, he is set back in a HUGE way as the NFLPA shows up with shows up looking for their share when it turns out that all might be ‘right’ with Spencer’s personal finances.
Ricky Struggles With Contract Offers, Cajun Travis Gets His Shot.
Elsewhere, Ricky Jerret proves that no good thing can last. Ricky had been being courted by several teams, including the New Orleans Saints, and he had even moved toward reconciliation with both his ex-girlfriend Bella and his father, Dennis. When Dennis tries to put the moves on Bella, however, all bets are off. Father and son fight and their confrontation makes its way to social media. New Orleans pulls their offer and Ricky is left realizing that his future may not be all that bright anymore. This doesn’t mean that Ricky is done, far from it even, as he manages to win a 3-year/$9 million contract offer from Miami by way of Charles.Ricky is ready to accept when the St Louis Rams call and offer him a lot of money to play for them. The problem? Charles already told Miami that Ricky accepted their offer. The two fight it out but eventually reconcile and Ricky agrees to stay in Miami.
With Spencer’s future as an agent murky, to say the least, Andre makes a move to pull Joe away from Anderson Financial. Andre doesn’t want Joe to let Spencer ‘keep him down’. This doesn’t make any sense since Joe himself is the less valuable member of the team. Still, Andre puts out a huge offer which Joe does not accept. Instead, he becomes a spy and decides to loot through Andre’s computer. Joe’s caught and the rivalry heats back up. In his own bubble, Spencer stays focused on helping to rehabilitate young Travis Mack in preparation for the NFL Draft. Mack makes this hard when he storms off of the set of Jay Glazer’s show. We find out that Mack is dyslexic and Spencer’s quick thinking helps to save the day. Travis comes back on set and diagrams a play of his own, verbally, and he showcases his considerable ability. This eventually leads to Travis getting drafted #6 overall by the Baltimore Ravens thanks to a little help from Sizzle (Suggs).
Pain Pills & Past Regrets.
Despite his outward appearance, Spencer is in a deeply troubled state as we head toward the season finale. His finances are in the dumps after it is revealed that he lost $6 million to Andre in a bad real estate deal. His head isn’t screwed on right due to an increasingly problematic painkiller problem. To cap things off, Spencer might be out of a job as the NFLPA works to punish him for his past problems. Oh, yeah, did we mention that Spencer gets fired from Anderson Financial? On the outs, Spencer turns to Ricky for a small loan of $5 million. Ricky, perhaps unbelievably, agrees to lend his friend and agent the money. This leads to Spencer putting an offer on the table to buy Anderson Financial. Mr. Anderson says that they can talk when Spencer has the full $12 million. In the parking lot, Andre appears and the two have it out. We find out that Andre blew Spencer’s $6 million net worth back when he was a player, due to a shady investment scheme. Andre tries to make it up, offering to purchase Anderson Financial outright before bequeathing it to Spencer to manage. Spencer, unbelievably, declines the offer.
In the season finale, we see Charles continues his corporate climb with a promotion from Mr. Siefert of the Miami Dolphins. Ricky gets terrible advice from his father which he naturally takes, agreeing to go to a workout with the New England Patriots in order to try and win a ring for a Hall of Fame bid. We get a fun appearance from NFL stars Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. Reggie and Vernon set out on a road trip in order to get to training camp and they bond over a big raise that Vernon offers Reggie. Mr. Anderson pulls his offer from Spencer, agreeing to a 50-50 partnership at best. Elsewhere, the NFLPA has filed a grievance against Spencer on behalf of a mystery player (Eddie George, NFL legend). Spencer makes his way to the nearby Rookie Symposium where he delivers a heartfelt speech on the struggles of post-NFL life. He gets George to drop the grievance and even earns a few encouraging nods from the crowd. Still, Spencer is broke, hooked on painkillers, and facing a hip replacement that he cannot afford.
Ballers Season 3 – Will Spencer Start Balling?
Through the first two weeks of the new season, we’ve seen some game-changing moments that look to set up multi-year arcs. We find out that Ricky may potentially have a child on the way while simultaneously learning that Spencer is probably infertile. There’s also a fun moment with Steph Curry where the NBA superstar was supposed to mingle with Spencer in order to sell him on Wayne Hastings Jr, a casino owner from Vegas. Spencer’s goal here is to win Hastings over and get him to partner with Anderson Financial in order to settle his debts and help to bring a football team to the city of Las Vegas. Steph drops out but Joe steps up and soon the two are selling Hastings on the idea.
Taking The Crew To Vegas.
With Vegas in the mix, we get to see more of the Ballers crew in a new environment. Ricky and Spencer head to Las Vegas in order to meet Hastings. Joe’s mad that he didn’t get invited on the trip and Joe is also mad that his client, Vernon is repping marijuana products on his clothing — not a good look for an athlete! Elsewhere, Joe gets fired by Kisan after he is outed as bad-mouthing his client.
Spencer Wins Some Vegas Clout.
Back in Las Vegas, Spencer is sitting down with a Councilman at dinner when he realizes that the stodgy older man just isn’t receptive to an NFL team in Sin City. Spencer ‘gives up’ on the idea, opting instead to take his dinner partner out to a Monster Truck rally, as you do. Spencer gets nice skybox seats before heading down to the arena floor where he climbs into one of the monster trucks. Desperate to prove that he ‘belongs in Vegas’, Spencer ends up driving the monster truck before it is flipped in the air off of a jump. Spencer survives unharmed, the crowd goes wild, and the Councilman admits that Spencer might just ‘grow on him’.
Despite Spencer’s breakthrough, all is not well back home. Mr. Anderson doesn’t buy into Spencer’s optimism and demands contracts. Tim Brown, an NFL Hall of Famer, is mad at Spencer for trying to hint that the Raiders could move to Las Vegas (NFL fans can laugh). Charles continues to struggle as an executive for the Miami Dolphins despite doing his best. Charles butts heads with Mr. Siefert as it turns out that he’s just too nice of a guy.
Bringing Together The Billionaires – Moving To Vegas.
With momentum on his side, Spencer maneuvers multiple billionaires to get together in order to talk about relocating the Raiders. Hastings and Bossman (Christopher McDonald), as well as Bret Anderson (Richard Schiff), start to work together in order to find financial solutions. The problem? Nobody wants to sign the check. This is a risky decision even for people of their financial standing. Mr. Anderson is the smallest fish at this table but encouraging words from Spencer helps to perk him back up. Still, there is a lot of work to do. With all of these dollar signs floating around, Spencer is a nervous mess and this eventually bleeds into his private life as he struggles to maintain intimacy with people like Chloe. Spencer is also repeatedly ‘checked’ by the NFLPA and other doubters who don’t think he can handle his ambition. This doesn’t scare Spencer.
Charles, Ricky & Vernon Grow In Different Directions.
Elsewhere, Charles has a growing moment when Coach and Siefert come over for dinner and (predictably) get into a fight. Charles breaks it up and just maybe wins some respect from his bosses. While Charles may be on the right path, Ricky and Vernon are struggling. Vernon is facing a marijuana-related suspension. Ricky Jerret is in criminal trouble. Elsewhere, Ricky Jerret finds himself in jail after having gotten drunk and punching a kid. The tape is obviously leaked to the press. This isn’t good. Spencer and Ricky come to verbal blows with Ricky angry about the money that Spencer owes and his lack of proper representation thanks to Spencer’s obsession with Vegas. Ricky ends up in therapy and we get to know a little more about the man behind the bravado. Ricky eventually even makes up with the kid that he punched, hanging out with him for a day and actually bonding with the teenager. Ricky ends up being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and the Patriots agree to sign him to a long-term deal if he commits to his meds and his therapy. Ricky is worried about how the medicine will impact his performance, but he agrees.
Back at Anderson Financial, Mr.Anderson has a potential sale of his business on the table so that he can go full-throttle toward Vegas. Spencer isn’t in favor of the deal since they would be selling ASM to a business that doesn’t personally invest any care into their clients — something that Spencer has been failing to do himself. Speaking of ‘failing himself’, we soon learn that things are even worse for Spencer physically than we thought. Doctors reveal that Spencer is rapidly becoming infertile and that a potential child with girlfriend Chloe could be almost impossible to come back.
Endings & Beginnings.
The season comes to a close with Spencer miraculously finding the funding to bring the Raiders to Las Vegas, but there is a catch. Spencer, who had been dealing with his own anxiety relating to how he has been treating his friends, decides to depart from the move. Mr. Anderson agrees to go to Vegas and he decides to leave ASM in the care of Spencer and his team. Elsewhere, Charles takes a meeting with the Los Angeles Rams for their open General Manager position. Ricky decides to retire from the NFL, committing instead to a life with his pregnant girlfriend — Amber. Joe and Spencer return to the offices of Anderson Sports Management in order to find it packed up with employees morose and ready to relocate. Joe and Spencer announce that they are staying and that ASM is going to be expanding throughout the country.