‘Ballers’ Season 3: Dwayne Johnson’s Spencer Strasmore returns July 23 with fresh outlook on life

When HBO’s comedy series “Ballers” returns for Season 3 on Sunday, July 23, Dwayne Johnson‘s retired NFL star Spencer Strasmore will have a fresh outlook on life. The new season finds Spencer trying to create bonds with athletes and partners in Miami, FL after recently undergoing hip surgery and baring his soul at a convention for rookie athletes. The premium network has so much faith in “Ballers” this year that it’s giving it the plum post-“Game of Thrones” time slot on Sundays.

Created by Steve Levinson, “Ballers” Season 3 also stars Rob Corddry as Joe Krutel, John David Washington as Ricky Jerret, Omar Benson Miller as Charles Greane, Donovan Carter as Vernon Littlefield, Troy Garity as Jason, London Brown as Reggie, Jazmyn Simon as Julie Greane and Dule Hill as Larry Siefert. Notable guest stars this year include Richard Schiff, Steve Guttenberg, Steven Weber, Emayatzy Corinealdi and Serinda Swan.

Joining Johnson and Levinson as executive producers is Mark Wahlberg, who’s gaining a rather impressive Emmy resume behind the scenes. He earned three nominations for producing comedy series “Entourage” (2007-2009), another pair for producing mob drama “Boardwalk Empire” (2011-2012), and two more for producing his family’s unstructured reality TV show “Wahlburgers” (2014-2015). That brings his tally to seven total Emmy nominations.

HBO has released spoilers on the first two episodes of the new season. Season 3, Episode 1 (“Seeds of Expansion”) is written by Rob Weiss and directed by Julian Farino. Looking to score high-profile clients to pay off his debts to Ricky and Vernon, Spencer hits a roadblock with Mr. Anderson, who wants to focus on the Las Vegas market by partnering with casino magnate Wayne Hastings, Jr.; Ricky ponders fatherhood; Vernon and Reggie eye an edgy endorsement; Larry makes Charles the face of bad news at a team press conference.

And airing July 30 is Season 3, Episode 2 (“Bull Rush”), with David Katzenberg directing the script written by Evan Reilly. In Las Vegas on business, Spencer gets reacquainted with Chloe, an old flame now working for Wayne, while Ricky challenges the odds in a game of dice. Set up by Joe to represent top running back Kisan, Jason ends up sweating it out in a tough neighborhood. Charles gets a public-speaking primer from Julie; Vernon and Reggie make a risky endorsement deal.

While the Emmy Awards snubbed “Ballers,” it did earn a pair of nominations at the Image Awards for Johnson as Best Comedy Actor in both 2016 and 2017. The first two seasons of “Ballers,” which critics describe as a sports version of “Entourage,” averaged a 64 score at Metacritic and a 68.5% at Rotten Tomatoes.

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