When the Sacramento Kings made Isaiah Thomas the final pick in the 2011 draft, few expected the former Washington standout to go on to NBA stardom. Six years later, however, the diminutive guard is a legitimate MVP candidate and the star of the Boston Celtics, who open the Eastern Conference finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night. Here’s a look at 13 other players across NBA, NFL and NHL history who have gone on to have memorable careers after being picked 60th overall:
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Michael Cooper (Los Angeles Lakers, 1978)
Celtics fans are plenty familiar with Cooper, who capped off two of his five NBA championships with a win over Boston in the NBA Finals. A stalwart defender who made five all-defensive first teams and three second teams, Cooper spent his entire 12-year playing career in L.A., then went on to win two WNBA championships as the head coach of the Los Angeles Sparks.
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Drazen Petrovic (Portland Trail Blazers, 1986)
Petrovic was tragically killed at age 28 in a car accident in Germany, but the Croatian guard appeared well on his way to stardom during his four seasons in the NBA. Drafted in ‘86, Petrovic made his NBA debut in 1989 and was traded to New Jersey in January 1991. In two full seasons as a Net, Petrovic averaged 21.4 points per game and was thought to be one of the best shooters in the NBA. His No. 3 jersey is now retired by the Nets, and in 2002, he was enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
Pat Swilling (New Orleans Saints, 1986)
Only two players from the 1986 NFL Draft class had more career sacks than Swilling, who recorded 107.5 of them in 12 seasons with the Saints, Lions and Raiders. In addition, Swilling led the league in sacks with 17 in 1991, earning league Defensive Player of the Year honors, and made the Pro Bowl every year from 1989 through 1993. One thing Swilling never did earn, however, was a playoff victory, going 0-6 in the postseason — the most appearances in league history without a win.
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Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars, 2006)
Though he only spent four full seasons as an NFL starter, Jones-Drew was one of the league’s best running backs in the late 2000s and led the league with 1,606 rushing yards during the 2011 season. For his career, the former UCLA product rushed for 8,167 yards and 68 touchdowns and added 2,944 yards and 11 touchdowns as a receiver. He last played with the Raiders in 2014.
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Brad Meester (Jacksonville Jaguars, 2000)
Center certainly isn’t football’s sexiest or most high-profile position, but Meester, a converted left guard, was a steady presence during a 14-year career spent entirely with the Jaguars organization. He retired in 2013 as the franchise leader in games played and started with 209, a run that included 92 consecutive starts to begin his career and 90 straight starts to end it. He’s one of two centers in league history, along with Samson Satele, to start at least 100 games after being selected 60th overall.
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Doug Buffone (Chicago Bears, 1966)
A fourth-round pick out of Louisville, the late linebacker Buffone spent 14 years in Chicago and had seven 100-tackle seasons during his career, though his accomplishments were overshadowed by fellow Bears linebacker Dick Butkus for much of his career. One year after Buffone went 60th overall, the Detroit Lions selected another longtime NFL linebacker, Paul Naumoff, with the same pick.
Kordell Stewart (Pittsburgh Steelers, 1995)
The best quarterback taken with the 60th pick, Stewart started 87 games across 11 NFL seasons and threw 77 touchdown passes. Stewart was plenty capable as a ballcarrier and receiver, as well, and retired with 38 rushing touchdowns and five receiving touchdowns in his career. Coincidentally, Stewart’s backup in Pittsburgh in 2002, Charlie Batch, was also taken 60th overall.
Jonathan Broxton (Los Angeles Dodgers, 2002)
The former Dodgers closer saved 84 games during his tenure with the team and made two All-Star appearances before signing with the Royals ahead of the 2012 season. After a short stint in Kansas City, Broxton was dealt to the Reds and has since played for the Brewers and Cardinals, as well. He has a 5.73 ERA in 13 appearances with St. Louis so far this season.
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Travis Wood (Cincinnati Reds, 2005)
A starter turned reliever, Wood has spent the bulk of his MLB career with the Chicago Cubs and won a World Series with the team last season after posting a career-best 2.95 ERA over a career-high 77 appearances. Wood then signed a two-year deal with the Royals during the offseason, but the early returns in K.C. have been poor: He currently has an 11.91 ERA in 11⅓ innings pitched.
Ryan Ludwick (Oakland Athletics, 1999)
The journeyman outfielder played with six big-league teams — plus a full season with Detroit’s Triple-A affiliate in 2006 — during his career, which spanned 13 years. His best season came in 2008, when he hit 37 home runs and drove in 113 runs with the Cardinals. Ludwick’s last major league action came in 2014, with the Reds. Other former 60th picks include a pair of former MVPs in Steve Garvey (drafted 1966) and Fred Lynn (1970), but both players chose to go to college rather than make the jump out of high school and were later selected higher by the teams that ultimately made them famous.
Ray Sheppard (Buffalo Sabres, 1984)
Sheppard did not immediately sign with the Sabres after going 60th overall in ‘84, choosing to remain at the junior hockey level instead. But when Sheppard finally made his NHL debut in 1987, his impact was immediate, as the right winger scored 38 goals and logged 65 points as a rookie. Sheppard went on to play 13 NHL seasons, spread among the Sabres, Rangers, Red Wings, Sharks, Panthers and Hurricanes and retired with 657 career points.
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Tom Fergus (Boston Bruins, 1980)
The Celtics guard Thomas certainly isn’t the first case of a No. 60 pick panning out in Boston. In fact, the Bruins picked 60th overall three times in the 1980s, and all three players went on to have lengthy NHL careers. The first, Fergus, scored 98 of his 235 career goals in four years with Boston before being dealt to Toronto in 1985. In 1982, the Bruins also hit on Dave Reid, who spent 10 of his 18 NHL seasons in Boston, And in 1988, the club took Massachusetts native Steve Heinze at No. 60. Heinze didn’t end up breaking into the NHL until 1991 but racked up 239 points in nine seasons with the team.
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Brandon Dubinsky (New York Rangers, 2004)
Arguably the most accomplished active NHL player taken 60th overall, Dubinsky has spent the past five seasons in Columbus after playing five full seasons with the Rangers, and has contributed 408 points in an even 700 career games. Two other active NHL players with at least 100 career points were also taken at No. 60: Detroit center Tomas Tatar and Bruins forward Jimmy Hayes.