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‘Ballers’ Premiere Review: Season 3’s ‘Seeds of Expansion’ Promises to Extend The Action Beyond Miami

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is back, and balling as hard as ever.

Ballers 301

HBO

[Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “Ballers” Season 3, Episode 1, “Seeds of Expansion.”]

As always, the life of a baller is filled with ups and downs, especially on “Ballers.” Thus, in the season premiere, we see the beginning of key storylines for Vernon (Donovan Carter), Charles (Omar Miller) and Ricky (John David Washington): Vernon’s got a new apparel business in the works, Charles is taking on more responsibility as a member of the Dolphins’ front office… and whoops, looks like Ricky is going to be a father, courtesy of a not-so-stable past (and present) hook-up.

It’s an awful lot of set-up, which we’ll undoubtedly dig into more as the season progresses, but none of the questions surrounding those narratives are as important as this one…

Someone read our dream journal: Season 3 of “Ballers” literally begins with The Rock balling. Specifically, he’s playing a little pick-up basketball on Ricky’s court, because getting an artificial hip was a Season 2 problem and this is Season 3, baby!

In Season 3, his new bionic hip is working great — instead, what pains him is the money he borrowed from Ricky, as Ricky’s expecting to get paid back on schedule and that might be tricky. Not only that, but when Ricky admits that he might have gotten someone pregnant, The Rock reveals that he’s never even had a near miss with a girl. While he explains this initially by saying that “my pullout is straight 100, brother,” when he gets to the office he’s Googling “infertility.”

Infertility can be a terrifying concept for any human, given the baseline biological imperative to procreate — even if one chooses to remain childless, no one wants to confront the notion that they’re incapable of bringing life into the world. (And that might be doubly true of someone who spends an awful lot of time discussing the size and power of his balls with his friends and colleagues.)

However, The Rock has grown and learned from his mistakes last season, and so brings it up with his doctor during a check-up. Unfortunately, he doesn’t actually go through with the appointment, but he was distracted. After all, Steph Curry dumped him, and he needed to find a new date.

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To be clear, Steph Curry was going to show up at a dinner party hosted by Anderson (Richard Schiff) to help court Wayne Hastings Jr. (Steve Guttenberg), a wealthy Vegas casino owner. If The Rock can help land Hastings, Anderson will pay off his debts — solving at least one major problem.

Unfortunately, The Rock can’t find someone to take Steph’s place, which is when Joe (Rob Corddry) once again proves his abilities as the best hype man around. “YOU are the asset,” he tells The Rock, encouraging him to sell himself to Hastings, rather than rely on whatever other sports star “Ballers” could get to make a cameo as himself.

The Rock does just that, totally crushing an impromptu speech at the dinner party that wins Hastings over, giving The Rock the perfect opening for a dream that (in real life) has already come true: bringing a football team to Las Vegas. Hastings loves the idea, and while we’ll wait to see how closely this season of “Ballers” hews to what happened in reality, there’s one thing we know for sure, by the end of this episode:

Just don’t forget to follow through on that doctor’s appointment, The Rock. Ballers don’t avoid. They confront.

“Ballers” airs Sundays at 10:00 p.m. on HBO. 

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