Warning: Spoilers Ahead
For those who miss the champagne popping, hot girl gawking, throw money at the most ridiculous luxury items imaginable antics of the “Entourage” gang, then get ready for “Ballers.“
Premiering on HBO this Sunday, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars as Spencer Strassmore, a retired NFL star who has transitioned into a second career as a financial advisor for current players.
The authenticity is striking from the get go. Strassmore wakes up having visions of his glory days on the field and immediately grabs painkillers that he pops like tic tacs.
Judging by the first episode, it’s likely we’ll see more situations in which Strassmore must deal with ailments from his playing days.
The show portrays how fleeting a pro football career can be. Though Strassmore is one of the few to find a good job that keeps him close to the game after hanging up his cleats, we also see the other side of the spectrum from his friend Charles Greane (Omar Benson Miller), who, now retired, has to find work selling cars to make ends meet.
Along with giving the viewer the harsh realities of life after the game, we see through Strassmore the current stars who are making the mistakes he did when he first became a pro.
This is where Strassmore steps in.
Through the prodding of his boss Joe (Rob Corddry, who is perfect in the role), Strassmore uses his friendships to build his client base.
He has Ricky Jerret (John David Washington), a brash receiver who gets cut from the Green Bay Packers after getting into a fight at a night club. And Vernon (Donovan W. Carter), a game changer at the defensive line who has brought the whole projects out with him to Miami since signing his big contract from the Dallas Cowboys. Strassmore sees Vernon is in need, but getting Vernon to split from his family and friends (who are bleeding him dry) is going to be a challenge.
Like “Entourage,” the show is done in a comedic style playing on the sport’s absurdities. In one scene during the first episode, real NFL star running-back Steven Jackson boasts to have recently bought an elephant.
But the glue that holds the show together is definitely The Rock. In his first attempt at television, Johnson (also an executive producer) has incredible presence playing someone who still hungers to be in the football culture, but has to in some ways “use his friends” to stay in it.
To do that, he plays a much more gentle, soft spoken character in tailored suits. A far cry from the roles he’s done to make him one of today’s most bankable action stars. And though it’s not likely he’ll be giving anyone body slams on this show, don’t be shocked if he has to get a little physical to get his point across.
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