Welcome to the Ballers Report! Like many of you, I've been enthralled with HBO's hit series Ballers since it debuted last year. So now, I'm going go recap the show, featuring some of the Miami-centric goodness that we're sure to see on a weekly basis.
Starring University of Miami alum Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Ballers is a hip-hop adaptation of Entourage, another half hour comedy that ran for 8 seasons on HBO. Focusing on Johnson's character Spencer Strasmore, a former NFL player and emerging titan in the financial advisor world, Ballers is rife with sports, pop-culture, music, and various eye candy, all set in gorgeous Miami, FL.
So, now that you know a little about the show, let's hop into the Ballers Report
Yes, I'm going to spoil everything that's happened in Ballers Season 2, Episode 1. If you haven't seen it, go watch it. Otherwise, continue forward. And we'll open like the show did, with this gorgeous shot of Ndamukong Suh on a boat:
The 2nd season of Ballers opens with Spencer Strasmore (Johnson) having closed on a new restaurant ownership deal for new client Ndamukong Suh. This is a big move forward for Strasmore, the new head of the Athlete Management division at Anderson Financial. During the friends and family opening event, however, two of Strasmore's rivals crash the party: LB Terrell Suggs and Strasmore's former financial manager, Andre Allen (Andy Garcia).
At the event, Strasmore is talked into appearing on Jay Glazer's show "Glazed and Confused". When making that appearance days later, Suggs appears, and the two end up fighting. It's great stuff. Strasmore's partner Joe Kroutel (Rob Corddry) tries to pull Strasmore off Suggs by the ankle a la Jeff Van Gundy trying to break up that infamous 1997 fight between the Knicks and Heat. Hilarious.
In other scenes, Dolphins WR Ricky Jarret (John David Washington) is reforming from his previous wild ways, and awaits a new contract offer as his 30th birthday approaches. The party plans are spoiled when another Dolphins WR gets a huge contract, taking Jarret's money on his birthday, no less. Surprise!
Another Dolphins player Charles Greane (Omar Miller) signs autographs with several Dolphins legends at an event. It becomes clear that, like Jarret, Greane's future with the organization might not be as clear as he would like.
Following the fight on "Glazed and Confused", Strasmore gets chewed out by Mr. Anderson (Richard Schiff) for his lack of focus, and potentially costing the company money. Anderson also drops "I moved to Paradise" in this scene, so maybe the writers have been listening to Mark Richt talk while prepping for the show. Just maybe.
The precocious Jarret hosts a lavish birthday party not at his home, but at his "fun house", a location where all manner of debauchery occurred in Season 1. At the behest of agent Troy Garity (Jason Antolotti), one of the tangential members of the Strasmore team, Suggs shows up at this party. Strasmore and Suggs make amends for their past transgressions, and Strasmore's plan becomes clear: sign Suggs to Anderson Financial, and ruin Andre Allen's career by stealing all of his clients.
In short, it was just another Sunday on Ballers.
Ndamukong Suh's fictional restaurant "Suh Casa"
HBO (via Curbed)
Inside of "Suh Casa"
A casual meeting on the patio of a South Beach Hotel
And no episode is complete without The Rock showing love to The U (the helmet behind the desk, you guys):
If you're wondering about actual locations from this episode -- including the real-life location used for "Suh Casa", Curbed Miami has a great interactive map for you.
Like its predecessor Entourage, there are always plenty of cameos in each episode of Ballers. Obviously, being set in Miami and having the Miami Dolphins as the fictional team in this series, you can expect to see plenty of real-life Dolphins on this list as week's progress. The guest appearances this week were:
|Ndamukong Suh||Miami Dolphin|
|Terrell Suggs||Baltimore Ravens|
|Jay Glazer||FOX Sports|
|Jarvis Landry||Miami Dolphins|
|Greg Jennings||Miami Dolphins|
|Dwight Stephenson||Miami Dolphins|
|Larry Csonka||Miami Dolphins|
|Jason Taylor||Miami Dolphins|
|Marshawn Lynch (mentioned by dialogue)||Seattle Seahawks|
HBO is well known for their great integration of music and film. Ballers music producer Scott Vener scored Entourage for years, and is one of the best in the business. Vener had a nice Q&A on the HBO website about his philosophy, musical roots, and more.
This week's soundtrack was:
Sally by Bibi Bourelly
Black Violin, a duo of classically trained instrumentalists from South Florida who specialize in integrating classical music with contemporary twists, performed a rendition of Spring from "The Four Seasons" by Antonio Vivaldi. Both members of Black Violin attended Dillard Center for the Arts in Ft. Lauderdale for High School, by the way, and have performed numerous times at Festival Miami, the annual concert series hosted by the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami. The duo has also performed with Alicia Keys at the Billboard awards (2004), and Wu-Tang Clan, and have also worked with the likes of Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Aerosmith, and many more.
3 Cellists did a acoustic cover of "Let Me Clear My Throat" by DJ Kool.
Bad Bitches by Lil' John, Kronic, and Onderkoffer, featuring Keno
Finna Get Loose by Puff Daddy and the Family, featuring Pharrell Williams
End Credits (always the biggest musical moment of the show): I'm the Man by 50 Cent featuring Chris Brown
That's it for this installment of The Baller Report. See you guys next week.