If you're a New Orleans Pelicans fan today, you're heartbroken. Anthony Davis, the best player in franchise history and one of the best in the NBA, announced (through his agent) that he wants to be traded.

By asking for a trade, Davis asserted a level of autonomy that we rarely saw from players until fairly recently. Even now, a player taking control of his own destiny in such a drastic manner is rare in most sports, and often poorly received by both fans, and members of the media.

Google "Le'Veon Bell Selfish" and you'll get a long list of articles and quotes from pundits, roasting the Pittsburgh Steelers running back for choosing to hold out (and eventually skip all of this NFL season) to protect his health and position himself for the biggest payday possible on the open market.

Davis hasn't (and likely won't) receive the same level of criticism as Bell, for multiple reasons. First, he's still suiting up for the Pelicans, or at least he will as soon as he returns from a hand injury.

Second, NBA fans and those who cover the sport have gotten used to a world in which players call their own shots. When LeBron James turned his free agency into a televised event called "The Decision," he got slammed from all corners, from (predictably) the owner of the team he ended up leaving to (unpredictably) Psychology Today.

Today, many NBA fans see the nearly $6 million James raised for charity with the televised event as a net positive. Moreover, they get that basketball players get drafted out of college or international ball (or in James' case, high school) then have their rights controlled well into their 20s. That teams, not those players, are the ones making the trades and manning the drafts that will determine if a future ring would be in the offing. And that for too many athletes, their jobs consist of playing hard and keeping their mouths shut, and that their right to free expression should only go so far.

Nine years after The Decision, many of the same fans who criticized James for "taking my talents to South Beach" now sit transfixed over where Davis will end up. Those who question Davis' right to ask for a trade are surely in the minority.

If the NBA has reached a point of enlightenment, and the NFL has paid commentators bemoaning holdouts and fans failing to understand how protests work, Major League Baseball finds itself in a nebulous middle ground. Only one MLB player, former A's catcher Bruce Maxwell, chose to kneel for the pregame national anthem. None of them took a step as bold as NBA players who wore "I Can't Breathe" shirts to protest the kind of police brutality that ended Eric Garner's life.

And when it comes to players demanding trades, so few baseball players do it that we can't properly gauge how those who watch the sport or those who cover it might react. (Though given that the average MLB viewer was tabbed at 57 years old according to a 2017 study, you might have your suspicions on the matter.)

Ken Griffey Jr. stands out as one of the few stars who asked to be traded while at, or near, the height of his powers. After the 1999 season, just shy of his 30th birthday and coming off a season in which he slugged a league-leading 48 homers, drove in 134 runs, made the All-Star team, won a Gold Glove (his 10th in a row) and Silver Slugger (his seventh in nine years), Griffey told Mariners management he wanted out. A few months earlier, the M's had offered Junior a long-term extension reported to be worth $135 million, but he'd turned it down. Though Seattle had finished below .500 that year, the bigger issue for Griffey was a desire to be closer to his home in Florida.

Unlike James with The Decision, or Bell with playing pickup basketball for four months while watching James Conner win a bunch of fantasy leagues for a lot of people, Griffey had the public relations machine working in his favor. It helped that he presented his request quietly to Mariners management, couched it as a desire to be close to family, and won their support and approval.

"Today is a sad day," Mariners chairman Howard Lincoln said at the time. "(But) you really have to think about all the things that are going on in our society, good and bad, and here is a man who, despite an incredible financial package that was put in front of him, said, 'I just want to spend more time watching my son play baseball and being with my daughter and my wife.' This is not a decision I can quarrel with or argue with, it's only a decision that I can respect."

If Griffey got off easy for his request, perhaps other MLB stars might not have been so fortunate. But because overt and public trade demands happen so rarely in the quieter, more conservative world of baseball, it's been tough to test the theory in those other cases too. The most recent example of players having input into their fate were/are Marlins stars, Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and more recently, J.T. Realmuto.

In the case of Stanton, you had a supremely talented outfielder who had to endure not only years of losing but also all the fun that comes with playing for a team owned by Jeffrey Loria. After new owner Bruce Sherman bought the club from Loria in the summer of 2017, he put the screws to Stanton, telling him he had two choices. He could either waive his no-trade clause and accept a deal to another team, or go through a long rebuild that would involve stripping payroll to the ground -- an increasingly popular tactic in today's baseball world in which teams aren't held accountable for hoarding money and losing on purpose. Stanton got to choose the team he went to, but it was his employer that put the wheels in motion for a trade.

Yelich was more overt with his intentions, but rightfully so. He too went through years of losing, and the Loria era. He too was there when Sherman took over the team and pledged to dump everyone making more than 17 cents. And he was also there when Miami traded Stanton to the Yankees, stripping the club of its franchise player, and according to most industry analysts, not getting enough in return. So when Yelich's agent Joe Longo told ESPN that a trade would be in the best interests of both the Marlins and his client, no one called for Yelich's head.

Meanwhile, Realmuto is still a Marlin, for now. His agent Jeff Berry didn't quite explicitly demand a trade. But he did inform Marlins management that his client would not be signing a contract extension, adding "I think he will be definitely be wearing a different uniform by the start of spring training" -- meaning the Marlins would trade Realmuto to cash in on his two remaining years of team control, even if they weren't being directly pushed into doing so.

Here's what we're still waiting for in the current era of baseball: a true star in his prime to demand a trade, for reasons that aren't so easily excused by the media, and fans. Specifically, we're thinking of Mike Trout.

The best player in baseball from his first full season in the big leagues, Trout's superlative play hasn't been enough to lift the perennially mediocre Angels in the postseason. In his seven-plus seasons of major-league play, Trout's teams have only made the playoffs once, and failed to win a single game that year, getting swept by the Royals in the 2014 League Division Series.

To be fair, Trout's bosses have tried to do better. They re-upped Jered Weaver on a five-year, $85 million contract right after Trout made his major-league debut. They spent obscene money in the winter after his debut season, bringing in Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson in the hopes of building a winning team. They threw gigantic money at Josh Hamilton. They later made complementary moves, such as tossing a three-year deal at Zack Cozart. All of those moves have failed.

Sure, Trout's paid more than $30 million a year to be the best player in the world. But given all that losing, and all those feckless attempts to surround him with great teammates, if Trout and his agent were to ask for a trade, could you really blame them?

Which brings us to the fundamental question: Could it be a good thing for athletes to feel free to demand trades of their employers? While cynics might say such demands are selfish and petulant, a more grounded view would be that the threat of such demands forces teams to be accountable.

In the case of the Marlins and Stanton/Yelich/Realmuto, it was a team showing no interest in investing in talent. In the case of the Angels and Trout, it was a team that definitely spent money, but did so ineffectively. Either way, there should be consequences attached to losing. If you're working at a widget factory and your boss surrounds you with lousy co-workers who make coming to work every day a drag, you can shop yourself to the other widget factory across town. Similarly, if you're a professional athlete and your bosses build a losing culture (through indifference or inadvertent failure), you should be free to express your opinion, and ask to be sent somewhere better.

There's a flip side to this Anthony Davis drama: Giannis Antetokounmpo, and his relationship with the Milwaukee Bucks. While Davis' bosses have mostly failed to surround their star player with top-flight talent (other than terrific and underrated guard Jrue Holiday), Bucks management has done a great job of finding supporting pieces for Giannis, be it through smart draft picks like 2016 second-rounder Malcolm Brogdon, clever trades like the ones that landed Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe, or under-the-radar signings like Brook Lopez.

So while the Pelicans fight for their playoff lives, the Bucks are a real threat to finish the season with the best record in the Eastern Conference, and a shot at going to the NBA Finals. That's why even though Antetokounmpo can test free agency just one summer later than Davis, there's not even a fraction of the same speculation surrounding the Bucks star when compared to the rumors that have followed Davis everywhere for a while now.

And then there's the sad truth behind it all: Sometimes, it just comes down to luck.

In a season other than 2012, the Angels' 89 wins might've been enough to nudge them into the playoffs, where Trout and friends would've had another shot at a deep playoff run. Or maybe a few bounces go their way in that short playoff series in 2014, and they make the ALCS, and then who knows what. Or if Boogie Cousins's Achilles tendon doesn't explode, maybe the Pelicans challenge the Warriors for Western Conference supremacy last season, add more pieces last summer, and come back ready for a darkhorse title run. Hell, if the Pelicans switched places with the Bucks and got to play in the weaker Eastern Conference, maybe Davis signs his supermax extension to stay in New Orleans, and it's Antetokounmpo and his agent laying the groundwork for a future trade demand.

Such is the nature of sports, where both big things and little things can swing the course of a player's career, a team's destiny, and in the case of a supertalent like Davis (or Trout, if he ever spoke up), even the balance of a league. With top athletes likely to peak in their mid-20s, start to decline after 30, and be out of the game by 35 or 40, time is precious. Might as well call your shot while you can.