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Rowley: Suns’ hot start vindicates NBA bubble format, Phoenix’s group

Phoenix Suns president Jason Rowley joins The Doug & Wolf Show for an interview on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Feb. 12, 2019. (Arizona Sports/Matt Layman)

There’s a palpable, substantive excitement around the Phoenix Suns that hasn’t been there in quite a while.

The Suns’ seven-game winning streak to kick off their return to play in the NBA’s Orlando bubble is the team’s longest winning streak since 2010. Coincidentally, 2010 was the last time they were in the playoffs, too.

Whether Phoenix goes a perfect 8-0 in the NBA bubble, and whether that 8-0 performance boosts them into the playoffs this year, remains to be seen on Thursday. But regardless, team president and CEO Jason Rowley pointed to how the 7-0 start says a lot about the team on the court and the league’s decision to put the Suns there in the first place.

“I think one thing we can all agree on is nothing shows character like adversity. It develops character but it also reveals it,” Rowley told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf for Suns Day on Thursday. “And our players and coaches have stepped up and just really shown what they’re made of during this unique set of circumstances.

“But the bottom line is people are very excited about where we’re heading. And just seeing the level of competition and the heart and the ability to come back in games where we’ve gotten down and fought back. And in the past, a couple years, maybe we fold in some of these situations. And that just has not been the case through this circumstance.”

The Suns were 26-39 going into the bubble, which included 22 of the NBA’s 30 teams playing an eight-game regular season finish to determine the final 16 playoff teams. Rowley explained that the Suns’ hot performance in Orlando has vindicated the league’s decision to allow teams like the Suns, who were well below .500, to compete for a playoff spot.

“Look, certain teams felt like it should be limited to the original 16 that would have been in the playoffs when the season was put on hiatus,” Rowley said. “But at the end of the day, I think there was a recognition that if you look at the numbers, historically, there was still reasonable chance for the teams outside of that 16 up to 22 to be able to fight for a playoff spot and even get in. So there was some history for that.

“At the end of the day, the format has worked well. I think it’s demonstrated exactly what everybody was hoping for it to demonstrate. I mean the fact that we’re literally going into the last day of the bubble and you have four teams that are within a razor-thin percentage of each other, really is just remarkable and it’s created and even higher level of interest.”

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