The "Peace" message on the back of Zion Williamson's jersey

Entire Pelicans roster will have messages on jersey nameplates in Orlando

by Jim Eichenhofer
@Jim_Eichenhofer

The last name on the back of New Orleans guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker’s uniform is normally so lengthy – 15 letters – that it’s almost surprising Pelicans equipment manager David “Big Shot” Jovanovic can squeeze all of it onto a jersey. When the NBA officially restarts Thursday with a New Orleans-Utah game, however, the 21-year-old rookie’s nameplate will be significantly more concise, carrying a succinct four-letter message: VOTE.

Alexander-Walker and every member of the New Orleans roster has opted to participate in an initiative partnered between the NBA and the player’s union, allowing players to replace the last name on their jersey with one of 29 approved messages or phrases (entire Pelicans player list below).

As the native of Toronto explained July 19, he wants to emphasize the importance of voting for citizens, partly because it’s ultimately a major factor behind how politicians and government entities make policy decisions. After researching data on voting trends and receiving advice on the issue, Alexander-Walker chose the topic for his message.

“I feel like it’s very important,” Alexander-Walker said of exercise the right to vote. “Someone said to me, and it kind of resonated with me, that the way things change is through voting.

“Riots broke out (this summer) and people were trying to express themselves in different ways, but if you want to see change, you should probably vote. There were interesting statistics that were given to me about voting, (comparing when) Barack (Obama) was President until now. The numbers were down. I think it’s important that everyone votes.”

There are varying degrees of participation from team to team across the NBA, while one team – Dallas – chose to have all 16 Mavericks players wear the same “EQUALITY” message on their jerseys, including in five different languages (for example, Luka Doncic’s uniform will read “Enakopravnost,” which is the Slovenian word for “equality”).

New Orleans players are sporting a total of 10 different phrases, wearing the special uniforms through the weekend of July 30-Aug. 2. After that, players will have the option of keeping the phrase, or returning to their conventional uniform.

Here is the complete list of Pelicans players, ordered by message and uniform number:

VOTE

#0, Nickeil Alexander-Walker

PEACE

#1, Zion Williamson

#15, Frank Jackson

EQUALITY

#2, Lonzo Ball

#9, Jahlil Okafor

#10, Jaxson Hayes

#55, E’Twaun Moore

SAY THEIR NAMES

#3, Josh Hart

#4, JJ Redick

#11, Jrue Holiday

#45, Zylan Cheatham

BLACK LIVES MATTER

#12, Sindarius Thornwell

FREEDOM

#14, Brandon Ingram

UGUAGLIANZA (Italian for “equality)

#20, Nicolo Melli

POWER TO THE PEOPLE

#21, Darius Miller

LISTEN TO US

#22, Derrick Favors

I CAN’T BREATHE

#34, Kenrich Williams

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