'Ballers': 11 Practical Tips for Navigating Money, Media and Mistakes

THR recounts the most applicable moments from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Rob Corddry and more in the HBO series’ freshman season.
Jeff Daly/HBO
Rob Corddry and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in 'Ballers'

1. “First piece of free advice -- you gotta listen, you all make millions: Never buy a depreciating asset. If it drives, flies, floats or f---, lease it!”
When former football star Spencer (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) begins a new career as a financial manager, he’s asked by his boss Joe (Rob Corddry) to monetize his friendships. His handout tip to friends outside a nightclub in episode one seems a stark departure from the extravagant lifestyle in Miami, but it’s sound advice, especially for those who repeatedly make impulse purchases.

2. “When you have too much time on your hands and you f--- groupie whores, you end up dead.”
Leave it to the unfazed Julie (Jazmyn Simon) to warn her husband Charles (Omar Benson Miller) after the death of his former teammate, who died while driving recklessly with his mistress. Her lesson: Fast-life hobbies in the wrong hands can lead to self-destruction – arguably, like the fatal routes of Cory Monteith and Whitney Houston.

3. “Who the f--- are all these people? … You better start knowing.”
Spencer digs deep into his empty pockets to loan former teammate Vernon (Donovan W. Carter) money, since his is irresponsibly spent by his loved ones, including a childhood friend named Reggie (London Brown).Too idealistic about those around him, Vernon doesn’t realize that his funds will always deplete as long as he allows Reggie to pocket a percentage for himself.

4. “You have an understanding with a 24-year-old defensive lineman, Spence. That’s not something we can bank on. If we’re gonna bring this to Anderson and prove to him that you belong here, he needs to see a f---ing authorization form. Now go get it.”
Regardless of industry, talk is cheap, especially when it comes to a newbie financial adviser who’s seen as just “a jock in a suit.” Episode two sees Spencer getting scolded by Joe for not securing a contract with his (supposed) new client, Vernon. If an agreement was made but nothing was signed, did it ever actually happen?

5. “I don’t want to hear about none of you tomorrow morning on TMZ, Deadspin or Page f---ing Six. Do not f--- up. I repeat, do not f--- up.”
Just some universal, wise words of caution from the Miami Dolphins coach to his teammates in episode three regarding Spencer and Joe’s company party, complete with the founder’s yacht and few too many drugs and cell phones. May the phrase be repeated before any night out on the town.

6. “It’s a phrase you repeat to yourself to help control the rage. It goes like this: I am bigger than my problems. … Breathe deep, that’s the key.”
To deal with anger in a healthier (and more affordable) way, Miami Dolphins owner Larry (Dule Hill) shares a calming mantra he learned from Phil Jackson in episode four. Frustrated player Ricky (John David Washington) takes the meditation technique to heart to pacify his constant feuding with another teammate.

7. “There’s no magic formula for what it is we do. All financial firms are more or less the same, I’m not gonna lie to you. But what separates us is the work we put in, all phases of the game. We’re building something big … and we want you to be a part of it.”
Joe successfully pitches Victor Cruz at the end of episode four by being outright and honest, yet bold and forward-thinking. It made “borrowing” the founder’s yacht for another day well worth it.

8. “You gotta start thinking about this. The position you’re in now, you become a target.”
In episode five, Spencer and his team are summoned to rescue Vernon when photos of him partying with drugs and naked women surface, putting his upcoming contract on the line. The motivations of the person threatening to leak them to the media are initially unclear, but opportunity to exploit Vernon for six easy figures was wide open. Adds Vernon’s agent, Jason (Troy Garity), “This is what happens when you are f---ing awesome at your job.”

9. “His career is on the line, and the only card he has left to play is the truth.”
Spencer devises a plan in episode six to fix Ricky’s public image after rumors circulate that he slept with his teammate’s mother. Never underestimate the power of a televised tell-all, especially when the subject has a heartbreaking childhood anecdote in his back pocket.

10. “That’s totally different, … because they weren’t using me to get to you.”
In episode seven, Jason’s mother introduces him to her new beau, an ambitious young golf instructor who wants to turn pro. Jason’s ears immediately perk up when the suitor pitches himself as a potential over dinner – whether his mother will actually realize she’s being used is something else.

11. “A lot of guys come back simply because they got nothing to do. But if you play this game for the wrong reasons, it gets dangerous real fast. People get hurt.”
Larry lays down the law when Charles, dissatisfied with his job at the car dealership, asks to replace an injured playerin episode eight. When looking at one’s true motivation to not only participate but vie for success, the owner’s observation remains applicable to any industry.

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