Maybe his anticipation of the upcoming season got the best of the Denver Nuggets' mascot, Rocky. But there's likely no explanation that would appease the team's front office after the mountain lion made an unauthorized appearance at a rally for the Colorado Republican party.

Rocky's appearance put the Nuggets on the defensive the next day, with the team insisting that the team had nothing to do with the appearance.

Graham Wincott, who manages the mascot's public appearance as the franchise's marketing manager, termed Rocky's actions as "an unsanctioned, unpaid appearance that we had no knowledge of," in a report from The Denver Post.

Political ties can be a dangerous proposition for sports franchises, which is why most make a concerted effort to toe the line of neutrality. That's the case even if your team owner is a well-known Republican, as is the case with the Nuggets. Stan Kroenke is a rich entrepreneur who married into the Wal-Mart family fortune.

As the owner of the Nuggets, as well as Arsenal of the English Premier League, Kroenke is very active within the Republican Party. He was, however, not too partisan to resist leasing Denver's Pepsi Center for the 2008 Democratic National Convention -- a political event that helped Barack Obama win the presidential election that year.

But a thick line is drawn between Kroenke's political affiliations and those of the team itself. Wincott told The Denver Post that "as a sports team, we want to be apolitical."

The chairman of Colorado's Republican Party, Ryan Call, told the newspaper in an email that Rocky was there as a "long-time supporter of Mitt Romney and Bob Beauprez," and that his role at the rally was informal.

But Call did suggest that Rocky was exercising First Amendment rights by showing up at the rally, even if Rocky is, well, a fictitious character owned by an NBA franchise, rather than an individual entitled to Constitutional rights.

Wincott said the situation was being handled internally, but it sounds like Rocky has already seen his last political action.

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