Ballers: This Is Not Our World is when Sports X implodes

Photo: Dwayne Johnson, Donovan Carter, London Brown (Credit: Jeff Daly/Courtesy of HBO).
Photo: Dwayne Johnson, Donovan Carter, London Brown (Credit: Jeff Daly/Courtesy of HBO). /

Sports X is quickly becoming a losing proposition for Anderson Sports Management. Ballers officially has a new bad guy.

Spencer Strasmore (Dwayne Johnson) and Joe (Rob Corddry) know that Lance Klians (Russell Brand) is going to be a thorn in their side. The surf publicity already is a black mark, but they’re about to find out Sports X has even more issues. Ballers is going to have Lance hanging around like an albatross for a while.

Relationships on Ballers are about compromise. Ricky (John David Washington) and Charles Greane (Omar Benson Miller) are working on issues. In addition, Amber (Brittany Hall) and TTD (Carl McDowell) are finding a middle ground. Even Vernon Littlefield (Donovan W. Carter) and Reggie (London Brown) are finding the sweet spot of their relationship. Same thing for Jason (Troy Garity) and his new girlfriend.

West coast memories

William Strasmore, the deceased brother of Spencer Strasmore, only made it 24 years before committing suicide. Spencer said he has issues with the West coast, and it’s very clear it’s 100% his brother. He visits the graveyard, pours a 40 to the memory, and yells “I thought you were fighter, Billy!?” After kicking the headstone, he is suddenly in the middle of a chasm opening up under his feet. Like the San Andreas swallowing him whole.

Then he wakes up. It’s a horrendous dream, and it’s clear Spencer has some serious animosity and regret about his brother dying.

The Sports X budget is questionable.

Picture the middle of skate park, with about 45 cameras littering the edges of each ramp. Spencer remarks, “Who’s directing this, James Cameron?” Lance is apparently not upset about the marketing fiasco with surfer wunderkind Parker any more.

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The grand scheme of it all causes Joe to schmooze with an accountant named Enid. She’s completely miserable about her job, and happily lets Joe see the books. Even though Lance has sworn her to secrecy. Joe goes apoplectic upon seeing the bottom line, comparing the total price to a military contract. Final budget? $1 million dollars. This is obviously not acceptable.

High School jersey retirement

Vernon Littlefield is returning home. Reggie doesn’t like that everyone has their hand out when Vernon returns home. Furthermore, Reggie is suspicious about the invite at the high school. Along with Spencer, they are greeted by Mr. Hagerty (Ernie Hudson), their old principal. Hagerty says lead paint, asbestos, and no funding for chairs/etc. has caused the school to fall into disarray.

Reggie proposes $5K, and Hagerty starts a great speech on the football field. Reggie says he should be more philanthropic and the field is renamed “LittelField.” (Did they spell his name wrong?) After a little more inspiration, Vernon declares that he’s donating a cool million to the school. Reggie says, “Are you high?!” but Vernon and Hagerty dance together in celebration.

It’s tough to un-retire

Ricky agrees to work out as long as it’s discreet. Charles Greane (Omar Benson Miller) and his assistant, who Ricky calls Urkel, are in attendance for the workout. If he does well, he’s likely on the team. Unfortunately, however, he has a case of the drops in the workout. He fails to haul in two easy slants and a deep out, then reveals to Charles about some new “happy pills” he’s taking. Subsequently they go to the 40-yd dash, and TTD tries to motivate him with images of someone having sex with Amber. Ricky doesn’t quite perform, and walks straight out of the stadium. TTD says “Let me see that watch, Urkel” and immediately realizes why Ricky walked off.

Consequently, things don’t go so well when the pair meet up with Amber later. She confronts them both, and forces TTD to say what happened. Ricky calls him a snitch, and Amber is furious. TTD delivers the line of the night, “Pu%%y is undefeated.”

Photos: John David Washington, Carl McDowell; Brittany Hall (Credit for all: Jeff Daly/Courtesy of HBO). /

The final confrontation

Who doesn’t hate Lance at this moment? The quicker Ballers excises that cancer the better. On the way to see Lance, there is a funny discussion between Spencer and Joe that exemplifies the reason Ballers is so awesome. Joe says Spencer is a sex addict, and a braggadocios reply about opportunity starts the banter. Then they talk about alcohol and pain meds before agreeing to go to couples therapy at the Betty Ford clinic. The harmony between Dwayne Johnson and Rob Corddry is phenomenal. They appear perfectly at ease with one another, like frat brothers from college 20+ years ago.

Spencer and Joe subsequently crash Lance’s party. Spencer is pissed. The trio argue somewhat and Spencer says it feels like insubordination. Long story short, the reply from Lance is that he’ll do what he wants. Not a smart move when confronted by a muscle-bound giant in a three-piece suit who controls your money. Spencer quotes Donald Trump, “You’re fired.”

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There’s also Jason and his girlfriend. It turns out Jason’s hottie once hooked up with Tiger Woodss when she worked at a Waffle House. Hole in one! This is a sub-plot that just feels like a reason to get more from the character than the occasional “I’m your agent and working for you”-line.

Will Sports X survive without Lance? Or will there be a mutiny? Spencer and Joe definitely have their work cut out for them in the future.

Ballers airs at 9:00 CT on HBO.