Adrian Dantley was running "really slow" laps around East Ptomac Park in June when he first heard about the trade.

"The radio said I might be traded to the Bullets," he said. "I might have broken the mile record getting to my car so I could get home and find out if it was true."

It wasn't and Dantley's dreams of playing in his home twon were dashed. But not his spirit.

"I even liked the weather in Buffalo," he said. "Maybe it's because I'm young and I have a good attitude."

Nor was that attitude affected, he says, when Buffalo finally did unload him in a surprising deal with Indiana that saw Dantley and Mike Bantom move to the Pacers for Billy knight.

"I was kind of shocked, just because no one had ever traded off the rookie of the year that fast," he said. "But I knew (Buffalo owner) John Y. Brown. We had 22 different players during my stay in Buffalo. He likes to wheel and deal."

But now Dantley is enjoying life in Indianapolis, playing for his fourth coach in less than two seasons in the league while he learns to adjust to two of the most trigger happy guards around, Ricky Sobers and John Williamson.

Dantley knew that getting the ball might not be easy at Indiana. But going into tonight's 8:05 p.m. game against the Bullets in Indianapolis' market Square Areana, he is still averaging 27 points a game, including outburst of 32 and 31 points, during Indiana's 500 start (2.2).

"Am I getting the ball" he said while laughing. "Well let's say I'm getting it, but nearly as much as I want it."

"But that's up to the players and the coach. We all have to learn to work together and we are. This is going to be a good team and I'm enjoying myself here. But I'd enjoy myself anywhere. That's the type of person I am."

Dantley has consistenly defied predictions about his future in basketball. He has never been quick enough or big enough to feel he had security in the game, but somehow he has become a standout on every level he has tried.

"They said I was too slow to be a good pro," he said. "So I made up my mind I'd be rookie of the year and I got it. I'm not like other players. I go about playing this game my own way."

This he says is his style:

"People say I won't get my shots here. Well, I'm not like a jump-shooter who can only do only one thing - take jump shots.

"There are other ways to get the ball and score. I've been hitting the offensive boards real hard. I've been running the fast break, filling the lanes, hustling.

"I want the ball because I know I can score, especially in crucial situations. Anyone who has confidence in himself wants to take the important shots.

"And my shots are different from other players. I just don't get my points from field goals. I've already been to the foul line 47 times in four games. I'm using fakes to get a lot of my points."

Dantley feels he's gained respect throughout the league, pointing out the people who have guarded him so far this season - "people like Bobby Jone and Kermit Washington. They are all power forwards, the big strong guys, I think I'm not really a small forward, but a small power forward.

"No 6-5 forward in the league plays like I do. They don't go to the boards and take the beating I take. That's what I laugh when they say I'm slow. Why run fast when I don't have to? I pace myself and use my energy property."

The Bullets will shift Dantley's pace a bit. They will put Bob Dandridge, not Elcin Hayes, on him and hope Dandridge's quickness and experience will neutralize the Indiana forward.

Hayers and Wes unseld will be concerned with bantom and center Dan Roundfield, who is playing ahead of both Len Elmore and Dave Robisch.

The entire Pacer team is physical, son. Bullet coach Dick Motta said he was worried about the pacers' back-court "using their size advantage against our guys (Larry Wright and Tom Henderson)." The other major Bullet guard, Phil Chenier, is still not 100 per cent but said yesterday he was finally feeling more at east when he moves.

Dantley says the Pacers "lack the kind of continuity that a team like the Bullets have because they've been together for a while.

"We're trying to blend four new starters in the lineup and that takes time. So I really don't know how good we can be. But the potential is there.

"I know I feel like a rookie all over again. I have to prove myself to these fans, just like I had to prove myself to the Buffalo fans.

"And besides, I came into this season scared. Really. All I heard in the off-season was, 'Watch out for the sophomore jinx.' It worried me. I didn't want to flop the second time around and have people pointing at me as a failure."

Dantley is always fearful that no matter how he plays, someone somewhere is not satisfied with him. He uses criticism, both real and imagine, as motivation, which is one reason why he always plays consistently.

"I'm hungry," he said. "I've got a lot of playing time ahead of me and I want to get traded much more. You get a reputation if you move around too much."

Not even to the Bullets? "Now, please, don't blow this out of proportion, but thats always been one of my hopes. It's good to be home, thats the type of person I am. Maybe one day they'd want me, but by then I might be too old."

The Bullets' two-game trip also includes a Saturday night contest at Kansas City . . . Washington (1-1) took four straight from Indiana last year and split four games with Kansas City . . ."I'm glad we're finally playing another game," said Motta about the team's break since meeting New York Saturday. "They're tired of practicing against each other."