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NBA honors Bill Russell by retiring uniform No. 6 throughout league

It’s probably merely a coincidence, but single-digit numbers have been highly popular among New Orleans Pelicans players in recent years. The 2021-22 roster featured a member wearing every jersey between No. 1 and 9, with the exceptions of 6 and 7 (the latter is retired for legendary New Orleans Jazz guard “Pistol” Pete Maravich).

After the NBA announced Thursday that No. 6 is being retired league-wide in honor of 11-time champion and Hall of Fame center Bill Russell – who died July 31 at age 88 – that digit will also never be worn again by a Pelicans player. Each active player across the league who currently wears No. 6 will be allowed to keep it until their career is completed, but it will not be newly-issued to anyone.

Incidentally, No. 6 changed hands frequently among New Orleans players early in the 20-year history of the franchise, but then there was a 10-year gap between usage until guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker switched his number from 0 to 6 prior to his second NBA campaign. Here’s the list of every New Orleans Hornet/Pelican who’s sported No. 6 in previous seasons (helpful assist from Basketball Reference):

Jerome Moiso (2002-03)
Tierre Brown (2003-04)
Junior Harrington (2004-05)
Arvydas Macijauskas (2005-06)
Tyson Chandler (2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09)
Bobby Brown (2009-10)
Sasha Pavlovic (2010-11)
Nickeil Alexander-Walker (2020-21, 2021-22)
Tyrone Wallace (2021-22)

The list of single-digit uniforms for current New Orleans players:

Zion Williamson (No. 1)
Jared Harper (2)
CJ McCollum (3)
Devonte’ Graham (4)
Herb Jones (5)
Naji Marshall (8)
Willy Hernangomez (9)