Phil Jackson switches up his ring routine

As if the signs weren’t clear enough that the 2010-11 season would be Phil Jackson’s “last stand,” Jackson’s right pinkie finger on Sunday offered more evidence that retirement is near.

Jackson wore his ring from the New York Knicks’ 1973 championship season before the Lakers’ opening game in their first-round series against New Orleans. It was the second of two rings he won as a player and one of the 13 rings he has in his collection, including the 11 he earned as a coach in Chicago and Los Angeles.

In years past, it was Jackson’s tradition to wear his most recent championship ring throughout his team’s current postseason run (he wore the Lakers’ 2009 championship ring during the 2010 playoffs).

When asked why he was wearing the ’73 ring, Jackson was demure at first, citing “personal reasons.”

He eventually revealed his motivation behind it.

“I think I’m starting at the beginning and working all the way through,” Jackson said.

(Technically, Jackson’s first ring as a player came in the Knicks’ 1969-70 championship season, but he missed their postseason run while recovering from spinal fusion surgery.)

Jackson said he planned to change his ring from game to game, meaning that the Lakers’ 2010 championship ring might not be showcased by the coach until the second or third round of the playoffs.

Not that Jackson is itching to wear it anyway.

“It’s a little bit too gaudy for me right now to put on,” said Jackson, who estimated his 1973 ring was a third of the size of his 2010 ring. “It’s hard to wear.”