There was once a time when Quin Snyder nearly walked away from the game. Depression and heartache set in. Coaching in the D-League gave Snyder a second chance and his journey through the NBA and now in Europe hasn't been the same since.
When CSKA Moscow hosts Brose Baskets Bamberg tonight in Euroleague play with CSKA looking to remain undefeated at 3-0, there is a pretty good chance you'll hear much praise for the job head coach Ettore Messina has done returning to the sidelines and helping Sonny Weems and Milos Teodosic mesh in Moscow.
But this story really wouldn't be complete without mentioning how Quin Snyder factors into the equation of CSKA's sudden successful start.
So many times us scribes here at Ridiculous Upside detail the steady rise, free fall, breakout performance or newsworthy notes pertaining to players in the D-League and the game overseas. Those who have D-League history and roots are tracked, applauded and tabs are kept often regardless where a particular player lands to play the game.
That just due should be extended to coaches too. And this is where Snyder's story really comes into play.
Some, if not all, who follow college basketball, the D-League and the NBA are well aware of Snyder's journey across the game coming up as an assistant coach with Duke before rising as a coaching prodigy to Missouri in 1999.
What you probably don't know is Snyder almost left it all behind and walked away from the game.
Snyder took over for a coaching legend in Norm Stewart and led the program to the NCAA Tournament his first four years at Mizzou, including an Elite Eight run in 2002. That was before the schnitzel hit the fan: 17 NCAA allegations plagued much of Snyder's time with the Tigers, eventually leading to his firing in 2006.
What followed next was nearly torn from a page out of The Bourne Identity.
Snyder went off the grid.
He lived with now Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doug Collins (who would welcome Snyder to his staff in 2010), took off for Costa Rica and lived in North Carolina. Away from the game, success and the fame were gone and replaced by doubts and some heartache as Snyder also went through a divorce. Yet for someone who was married to the game, it wasn't just as simple as walking away for Snyder, although he contemplated leaving the game behind.
Redemption returned thanks to the D-League and the Austin Toros.
"I had more control over my life," Snyder once said about his the three years he spent in Austin. "No one knows what I did there. No one cares that we won more games than anybody else. But I don't care that no one knows it. For me, it's something to hold on to.
"It was a gradual thing. It was organic...You're off the radar. People don't see your name or your face. And I think that separation provided more clarity for me. Now I have a lot more control over my life with what I'm doing now. And I feel more at peace with what I'm doing now."
After three successful seasons in the D-League, Snyder took his coaching ability to the NBA thanks to former housemate Doug Collins in Philly, but little did Snyder know then during the 2010-11 season with the Sixers where his life would lead next. In July 2011, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike Brown appointed Snyder to his coaching staff and it seemed that Snyder would settle in for the long haul and chance to even claim an NBA title -- maybe multiple titles.
Even Synder knows nothing is forever.
North Carolina came calling, and Snyder used the early offseason to interview with the Charlotte Bobcats for their head coaching vacancy. It was his second head coaching interview over the last two summers, with Snyder speaking with GM David Kahn in June 2011 about the head coaching job with the Minnesota Timberwolves -- a report Snyder denied when he eventually accepted the assistant gig with the Lakers. The ironic part of the story here is, Kahn was the one who originally hired Snyder to coach the Toros in 2007 back when they were a Timberwolves affiliate, and prior to the San Antonio Spurs acquiring the franchise that same year.
Despite being a finalist in Charlotte -- and a candidate with the Orlando Magic -- Snyder was passed over and all signs pointed to him returning to the sidelines with Brown in Los Angeles. Then a new sign popped up on Snyder's coaching map.
Next stop Moscow.
At 45 years old and experiencing his first chance to coach in Europe, Snyder couldn't be in a more perfect position even if he is 6083 miles away from sunny Los Angeles. When it comes to powerhouse clubs outside of the NBA, CSKA is as tough as they come having claimed the 2006 and 2008 Euroleague titles. Lets not even mention losing a heartbreaking finals last season to Olympiacos.
He connects with players. He is wise beyond his years in knowing and coaching the game. And his sideline leadership would easily be an asset to any head coach.
So when people snark at Snyder's decision to leave one assistant coaching job for another one all the way around the world, pause and remember exactly what the man has endured to get to this point.
It's not a question of, 'why did Snyder leave the NBA?'
It's more about, 'why wouldn't he jump all over a chance to coach with CSKA Moscow'. Messina made Snyder an offer he couldn't refuse as his lead assistant after the two men came to know each other during their time with the Lakers when Messina served as a consultant in Los Angeles. For Snyder, the best advice Messina probably gave him was to join Messina for a run at a Euroleague title with CSKA.
He's far from off the grid these days.
Quin Snyder has it made in Moscow.