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– by Anthony Esteves

With Spencer (Dwayne Johnson) angered by the actions of the Dallas Cowboys owner last episode, he’s left fuming when the deal to sign Patrick Mahomes to the Chiefs with Joe (Rob Corddry) and Jason (Troy Garity) has yet to be ironed out. With a call to Jason that ends with Joe cursing him out, Spencer hops in his truck and heads to the airport.

Related – Review: Ballers Season Five ‘Edutainment’

Meanwhile, Lance (Russell Brand), Vernon (Donovan W. Carter), and Reggie (London Brown) face an obstacle when one of their star trio of gamer brothers suffers a severely injured hand from the previous night’s fight. With the help of a local vet friend and his concoctions, the hand is able to perform well enough for the day’s tournament. However, a bit of intimidation is sent their way when the crew realizes that the organization that passed on signing Vernon to a gaming contract—after easily defeating him in a tryout—will be competing is the same tournament.

Ricky Jarrett (John David Washington), fresh off the newly acquired hype over his SiruisXM radio show, takes a meeting with a big media producer (Justin Long) at a studio lot. While the offer seems like it could open doors, Ricky becomes defensive at slight critiques the producer has and walks out of the meeting—something TTD (Carl McDowell) tries to apologize for. Also in SoCal, Charles (Omar Benson Miller)—dealing with the news of having suffered two heart attacks—weighs the option of continuing working at these stress levels with a new four-year, $10 million contract or saying no and heading back home to his family.

Arriving at the SportsX office, the showdown between Spencer and Joe, with Jason as intermediary, starts off with a slow bang. The two escalating from barbs back to yelling at each other until—after Jason leaves the conference room—Spencer apologies for parting ways with Joe the way he did. In the blink of an eye, the two are joking with each other. When Jason returns, the trio come to terms on a deal and a broken fence is mended.

The important impact made in this episode comes at the very end, where Spencer holds a special press conference. With Joe and Jason in attendance, Ricky and TTD watching from home, and the Cowboys owner watching from his office, Spencer announces that he is rescinding his vote in favor is an 18-game schedule due to the broken promise. Standing before the press, Spencer cites that he will always be a player first, and therefore will fight for the players—by demanding lifetime healthcare to all who have played at least three years in the league.

Taking a stance that echoes real-life calls within the league, the final moments of this episode align Spencer with the athletes, while putting him at odds with NFL owners—especially the Cowboys owner, who flung a bottle of Johnnie Walker through his television screen. This moment will of course raise more obstacles for Spencer. Could this move cause a quick removal for the first black NFL team owner?

Ballers airs Sunday nights on HBO, and is available for streaming on the HBO Go and HBO Now apps.

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