The end of an unforgettable era is at hand after Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champion CSKA Moscow announced on Tuesday that Nando De Colo, a long-time cornerstone of the club, is leaving the Russian capital. The history-making Frenchman played five seasons for the Russian powerhouse and helped it win EuroLeague crowns in 2016 and 2019. In the 2015-16 season, his second with CSKA, De Colo became the first EuroLeague player ever to win the Top Scorer Trophy and to be voted both the full-season and Final Four MVP. He has been voted to All-EuroLeague team in each of his five seasons with CSKA, including earning First Team honors in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
In each of his last four season with CSKA, De Colo eclipsed 500 points, a feat that no other player in competition history has done more than once. His scoring prowess has helped CSKA become an offensive juggernaut unlike any in the EuroLeague's modern history. De Colo arrived at CSKA in the summer of 2014, shortly after the club appointed Dimitris Itoudis as head coach. In their five years together, CSKA has five of six best single-season scoring averages of the past 14 years in the EuroLeague, and De Colo was a main factor in those achievements. CSKA's best season, 2015-16, when the team averaged 91.0 points, was also when De Colo averaged a career-best 19.4 points, which still ranks fifth among players with more than 20 games played in a season. Over the span of five seasons and 149 games, De Colo averaged 16.8 points, second highest in that period, along with 3.8 assists and 2.8 rebounds.
"It was five years for me playing and living in Moscow, and the city has become our first family home," De Colo said. "When [his first daughter] Lola was born, it was the first city she actually went to. We became a real family here. As for me leaving, this is not like I wanted to part with CSKA. I just want to appear in a different place, to reach some other goals. I played five amazing seasons here, we won two EuroLeagues, we dominated in the VTB League, we showed everyone that CSKA is the best club on the continent. I was really proud to play for the club. I want to thank our coach, who gave me the opportunity to play for the team and was giving me more and more responsibilities day-by-day. Thank you to the President [Vatutin] for letting me play here. Thank you to the management, doctors, staff and fans. And more than anyone I would like to praise my teammates. All these years, we have had great players and persons here, the guys who were making me better each and every day, the best players in Europe who made me improve by competing against them. It was really important to be part of this amazing group, who were our big family. So as I say, we reached every goal here in CSKA, and I think about the chance to change something, to find another challenge, to fight on the big stage again."
Apart from De Colo, CSKA bid farewell last week to its shooting guard Cory Higgins, who spent the past four years with the club. Higgins also helped CSKA win two EuroLeague titles, including the one in 2016, his debut EuroLeague season. This past campaign, which finished with him lifting the EuroLeague trophy again in Vitoria-Gasteitz, was the best of Higgins' career. He ranked second in the EuroLeague in scoring with 14.9 points per game, and has done it on fourth-best 49% three-point shooting. Higgins ranks seventh on the all-time list with 47.3% three-point accuracy.