Late last week, Drake decided to celebrate the exotic dancing careers of Lira Galore, Miracle Watts, and Maliah Michel in just about the most Drake way possible: by holding a jersey retirement ceremony for the three women at a strip club as part of Houston Appreciation Week. Raising their jerseys to the rafters was his way of showing the lovely ladies just how much he has enjoyed their contributions to strip club culture, though Michel didn't seem to appreciate the gesture.
But it sounds as though someone else already has a banner hanging up inside of a strip club in Houston, and it's not one of Galore, Watts, and Michel’s fellow dancers. Instead, it’s James Harden, who quickly became a legend at one specific Houston strip club after joining the Rockets back in 2012 through a trade with the Thunder.
On the latest episode of The Joe Budden Podcast, Joe Budden and his co-hosts Mal and Rory were discussing the story about Drake honoring Galore, Watts, and Michel, when Mal dropped a bombshell by revealing that Harden has a jersey hanging up in a strip club in Houston.
"James has his jersey like hanging from the top," Mal said. "They was doing that because they said James has been going in there spending like [a lot of money], you know what I mean? So they gave him his own jersey hanging from the rafters of the strip club."
This came as quite a shock to some people. NBA fans couldn’t believe that a strip club went as far as to hang Harden’s jersey from the rafters, even though most of them were excited about it:
But as it turns out, this isn't actually a new development. After doing a little research, we discovered that Harden has a banner—not a jersey—hanging in the rafters inside of the Dreams Houston strip club. And it's been up for years now.
The club never really explained why they hung the banner up for Harden, but it's pretty easy to guess why they did it. Shortly after he touched down in Houston and started playing for the Rockets, it seems Harden also started spending a lot of time—and money!—at Dreams. A dancer identified as Jasmine Taylor thanked Harden for his large contributions on Facebook in November 2012:
So, as Mal suggested on Budden's podcast, that's likely the reason the banner went up. For whatever reason, the club didn’t publicize the banner on social media, but it looks like Dreams hung the banner for Harden sometime between when he was traded to the Rockets in October 2012 and February 2013. You can see the banner hanging in the background of this photo of Harden, French Montana, Trey Songz, and Drake, which was one of the first photos Dreams posted after joining Instagram in early 2013:
You can also see the banner in this photo that Fox Sports 1 analyst Nick Wright posted on Twitter back in December 2013. It doesn’t look like many people saw the photo when Wright posted it—it got less than 10 retweets and only a few responses—but you can clearly see the same banner that was in the background in the Dreams Instagram picture:
At some point, Wright's fellow Fox Sports 1 analyst Colin Cowherd spoke about the banner on the radio:
We also found this mention of the banner on the Rockets’ Reddit page from about two months ago.
It's pretty clear that Harden is loyal to Dreams. He played in one of the worst games of his entire career at the end of the Rockets' playoff run in May, but it didn't stop him from showing up at Dreams just a few hours later.
Harden could have another banner or jersey hanging at a different strip club in Houston. He does, after all, have more than $200 million coming his way over the next five years, so it would make sense for all the Houston strip clubs to have Harden's jersey hanging in the rafters. But as far as the banner Mal referenced on Budden's podcast, it's safe to say he was referring to the one that's been in Dreams for five years now. It's old news at this point, but it's also proof that, regardless of whether or not Harden ever leads the Rockets to an NBA championship, he’s going to go down as a legend in the city of Houston, just like Galore, Watts and Michel.