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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A local chef claims he denied service to Tony Parker on Friday night because the San Antonio Spurs point guard didn't have a reservation. Parker says that would have been impossible – because he says he never went to the chef's restaurant.
The culinary tiff began the night before Game 3 of the Western Conference finals when renowned Memphis chef Kelly English confirmed a Twitter user's question asking if Parker tried to eat dinner at English's Restaurant Iris that evening and was "denied service."
English, a Grizzlies fan who has the team's "Grit, Grind" slogan written on his arm in his Twitter profile photo, then explained the decision in a subsequent tweet, saying Parker wasn't given a table at the restaurant because he didn't have a reservation.
We have a thirteen table restaurant. There have been times I couldn't get my wife or parents in. I can't create a table, Tony Parker or not.
— Kelly English (@kelly_english) May 25, 2013
Parker, however, said he ate room service dinner from his hotel while watching the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers play Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals that night. Parker said he never even left his hotel room.
"I don't know what is going on with that, man," Parker said before the Spurs' practice on Sunday. "I did not do that. Can you stop doing promos? Is that a new way of doing promos? That's a new way of doing promotion now, using my name? I did not do that."
[Slideshow: Photos from the NBA's conference finals]
Parker said he first learned of the story Saturday morning. He also said he rarely eats at restaurants while on the road with the Spurs out of fear that an opposing fan in the kitchen might do something to his order.
Ironically, it was a room-service order of crème brûlée from an upscale Dallas hotel that gave Parker food poisoning before Game 6 of the 2003 West finals. That incident also led to one of the greatest shooting performances in Spurs' history.
With the Spurs trying to close out the Dallas Mavericks, Parker tried to play, but missed all five of his shots and lacked any energy. The Mavericks took a 15-point lead and were well on their way to forcing a decisive Game 7 until Spurs coach Gregg Popovich decided to replace Parker with Steve Kerr in the fourth quarter.
Kerr, who had seldom played, made four 3-pointers, three in a stunning 23-0 run by the Spurs that sent them past the Mavericks and onto the NBA Finals, where Parker won the first of his three championships.
Now leading the Grizzlies 3-0, Parker and the Spurs can return to the Finals with one more victory. Restaurant Iris is closed on Sundays, but Parker didn't sound eager to book a reservation anyway. And he remained adamant he didn't try to eat there Friday.
"I stayed in my hotel room, never called or anything," Parker said. "…I don't know why you [media] keep fueling that. I guess he's going to have a lot of people now going to his restaurant because you guys keep talking about it. It's a great way to promote it with a fake reservation."
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