The home of the Masters is a draw for basketball's best, too

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Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) reacts after being fouled by Milwaukee Bucks forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo, rear, during the second half of an NBA basketball game in San Francisco, Tuesday, April 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

AUGUSTA, Ga. – It was April 7, 2003. Exactly 18 years ago Wednesday, Syracuse defeated Kansas to win the NCAA men’s basketball national championship. The biggest win in school history, the biggest win in the Hall of Fame career of Orange coach Jim Boeheim.

A couple hours after the game ended, Boeheim made a phone call.

Even after the biggest win of his life, Augusta National was on his mind.

“I had a deal with a guy that if we won the national championship, he’d get me onto Augusta National,” Boeheim said. “It was like 3 in the morning, right after the championship game, and we called to make sure it would happen.”

And it did.

This is the lure of Augusta National. If you find your way onto the grounds — either as a patron for the Masters, or in the even smaller club of people who can say that they played the course — it’s a memory for life. And in recent years, basketball coaches and players seem to have become particularly fond of the chance to be where the Masters happens.

“It's a special place, obviously," said Golden State guard Stephen Curry, who has played Augusta National a couple times. “There's a lot of history there. You get to watch the tournament every year, you feel like you know every hole if you've been there before or not. And if you get to play it, it's even that much more special to have that experience and walk those same grounds."

Curry half-seriously considered walking off Augusta after his first hole there; he made birdie, so he technically could have said for the rest of his life that he was under par on the course where they play the Masters.