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Ballin'

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"Ballin'" is the eighth episode of the second season of the Adult Swim animated television series The Boondocks and the twenty-third episode overall. It originally aired on December 3, 2007.

Plot

Riley is having a dream during which he, an NBA all-star for the Miami Heat, handily defeats other superstars like Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and Yao Ming, while Charles Barkley of TNT's Inside the NBA describes his "three gazillion-dollar contract" as a disgrace to the game, though he admits it is out of jealousy. The fantasy is ruined when Granddad invades his dream and ends up whipping him with a belt. The next day, Riley practices dribbling in the house. Granddad tells him to shoot free throws outside, offering to play him to teach him the basics. While they are outside, Tom Dubois walks by and is impressed by Riley's dribbling skills. He tells Riley that he is coaching a team called the Woodcrest "Mighty Deers" and invites Riley to try out for the team.

Riley shows up for practice the next day and challenges the whole starting line-up. He easily dribbles and showboats past the whole team, but refuses to take the shot, saying "that's all you get fo' free". Tom tells Riley about his dream of the perfect miracle win, citing what happened to the coach in The Mighty Ducks as the basis for his dream. One week later, Riley shows up in a suit and tells Tom that he should have called his agent (Granddad). As a result, Tom begrudgingly signs Riley to a contract. For his play, Riley, in return, gets to change the team name (he chooses "The Ballaholics") and design the team's jerseys. The next day, The Ballaholics play a game against an unnamed team. Riley starts out strong, but then it becomes painfully apparent that, while he is great at dribbling and advancing the ball, he is terrible at shooting. The Ballaholics get shut out in the season opener.

At home, Riley talks about quitting the team due to the loss. Granddad tells him that he should practice to win. Riley's shooting improves, and though he makes some shots and passes the ball in their next game, they still lose because Riley started showboating and hogging the ball too early. The next game, the South-ballers are up against the dominant "Tigers." The Tigers' coach sends up their powerhouse player, "Fearsome" Cindy McPhearson, a former The Boondocks comic strip character voiced by Tara Strong (this is her first appearance in the show), against Riley. She throws Riley's game off by taunting him during their one-on-one confrontations. Ruckus calls a foul on Riley, and the two argue as Tom calls a time-out. The team, Granddad, and Huey come up with a way to give Cindy a taste of her own medicine: Granddad remembers overhearing gossip on Cindy's mother, which Riley repeats on the court to throw off Cindy's game. It works, and Cindy runs off crying.

The opposing team's coach sends in their last reserve player, an autistic boy who has never played in a single game. Billy Matthews, after a stirring speech from his coach, takes to the court. Riley underestimates Billy at first, but after Billy starts hitting three-pointer after three-pointer, it becomes apparent that he is some kind of basketball prodigy. The Ballaholics lose their lead and try to rally, but Billy is too much. When Tom sees the Tigers' coach enjoying that miracle moment he so longed for, he loses it and cusses a blue streak.

After the game, Huey and Riley are watching television and the media uproar caused by Billy's amazing game. They show him living the high life which Riley longed for — meeting NBA stars, the President, and getting a $1,000,000,000 movie deal to tell his incredible story.

The last shot of the episode is the final humiliation for Riley. It features a poster for the Billy Matthews story (starring Haley Joel Osment as Billy) showing Billy shooting a spectacular jump shot against an obese klutz villain made to look like Riley's role.

Trivia

  • This is one of the two only episodes where a smile is seen on Huey's face, after watching his brother make a basket.
  • The first time the Mighty Deers' uniform are seen, it is misspelled "Mighty Dees".
  • Riley winning the 3-Point Shootout without removing his warm-up suit (or his Tims) could be a reference to Larry Bird doing the same in the 1986 contest.
  • The intro shows the NBA on TNT crew, including longtime white host Ernie Johnson, speaking exclusively in AAVE and frequently using the n-word.
  • The autistic boy in the episode is based off of Jason McElwain, who is a high-functioning autistic American; he came to fame on national news in 2006 when he played for four minutes and nineteen seconds during a high school basketball game and scored twenty points.
  • When Riley finally makes a basket in a game, he does a small victory dance. This is believed to be a reference to NBA Superstar Legend Michael "Air" Jordan.

Gallery

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