Frugal Lessons From Ballers: Season 5 Episode 1

Ballers is a HBO series show about a former football player turned financial manager (a character named Spencer, played by The Rock) that highlights the life of current and former players in regards to sports and finances and how they balance it all together.  Ballers goes in depth on a number of topics involving the lifestyle of professional athletes from players transitioning post career to handling family and friends to dealing with negotiations.

The following highlights different key financial points from the show that athletes deal with or can learn from.

Banned Substances = Suspension

Ricky gets notified by the NFL that he has been caught using a banned substance. What’s ironic is that Ricky wasn’t caught using PEDS [Performance Enhancing Drugs] but a banned substance that he thought was okay. Ricky is worried about his job and whether Charles, his friend and GM, will cut him. Regardless of if he cuts him, Ricky has to either take a 4 game suspension or go through an appeal process. Both options aren’t ideal in the fact that he will not only lose time but a lot of money in the process.

As professional athletes you have to be cautious of what you are putting into your body. There’s no excuse of not taking a measure approach. The risk of the price of staying young is not worth the costs.

Involved Manager

Reggie, Vernon’s manager, is working hard to create a lane for himself and not be seen as Vernon’s buddy. Ballers has done a great job uncovering different experiences within the sports landscape. Reggie’s character development from season 1 to season 5 has been very cool to see. He’s gone from receiving hand outs to having a seat at the table.

Athletes today are following the Maverick Carter model. As this space continues to grow, it’s important athletes find managers they can rely on and that can stand on their own two feet. Reggie’s character is a perfect example of why it’s important to have an involved manager that not only has a vested interest in their friend/client but wants to grow their own lane.

Guaranteed Salary

Ricky is towards the end of his career so contracts are harder to come by. He doesn’t have as much leverage as he had during his prime years. It’s the circle of life in sports.

At this particular time he finds himself in a predicament due to his situation of failing the drug tests. However, it was interesting how important a guaranteed salary was for him when pleading with his agent. In professional sports, there is nothing more valuable than guaranteed years especially in the sport of football. Obviously there are other factors that play a role, but across the board guaranteed money will always take precedent. In sports, you don’t know what will happen tomorrow maybe an injury or bad run of form or coaching change what you can always count on though….Guaranteed money.


Spencer is contemplating a potential sports ownership opportunity. It’s the full culmination of his career. Legendary career, successful post career in business, and now ownership opportunity. Very few athletes have followed this trajectory but it’s becoming more of a trend. Athletes like Grant Hill,Russell Wilson, Mia Hamm and James Harden are some of the latest athletes that have dipped their toes in sports ownership.

What’s important to note is how professional athletes are perfect candidates to step into this sector if they play their cards right. What you do during your career can help set you up to pursue this lane if the opportunity is what you want to pursue. You understand the business of sports, you have the network to raise money, you have the name to relate to the community, and you have the capital to get in the door. You have to be smart and frugal during your career to make it all work though.