Like any rookie in the National Basketball Association, he wants to be liked and accepted. But Quintin Dailey is not just any rookie.

Dailey, a polite, soft-spoken 21-year-old from Baltimore, is probably under more pressure than any other rookie in the league's history. It isn't his skills that are at issue. It's his moral fiber.

Dailey acts as if this doesn't bother him. But his Chicago Bulls teammates say they know differently.

Dailey, an all-America guard at the University of San Francisco, was charged with "assault to commit rape, assault with intent to commit oral copulation, aggravated assault, and willful and unlawful violation of the personal liberty" of a USF female student last year. As a result of plea bargaining he pleaded guilty, even though he said he was innocent, to the aggravated assault charge; the others were dropped and he received three years probation. A conviction and jail sentence would have prevented him from playing in the NBA.

In addition, Dailey has admitted that he was paid $1,000 a month in the summer of 1981 for a job he never had to show up for. That, in part, caused USF to drop basketball all together.

But it isn't the job or the program at San Francisco that has cast a shadow over Dailey's professional debut. It is the rape charge and Dailey's subsequent reactions to it. He showed no sympathy for the alleged victim when he said at a Chicago press conference that he had "forgotten about the episode. When you've got other, greater things ahead of you, I can put it behind me. Right now it's forgotten."

Even if Dailey could forget, a lot of others won't. In Saturday's 143-125 loss to the Washington Bullets, he smiled a lot and played with a certain flair and confidence that most rookies lack. But inwardly, he is bothered, teammates say.

Quintin Dailey does have feelings.

"He's got to," said teammate Reggie Theus. "He doesn't want to talk about it and so nobody does, but I know he feels things."

Over the summer, the Chicago press criticized Dailey for his no-remorse statements, and a number of women's groups have voiced their displeasure with the Bulls for drafting him. They have kept pressure on the Bulls ever since.

About 100 demonstrators from the National Organization for Women picketed in front of the Bulls offices Saturday and another 50 from the "Take Back the Night Coalition" picketed and handed out leaflets in front of Chicago Stadium before Saturday night's home opener against the Bullets.

Dailey said the pickets didn't bother him. There were no boos, only cheers for Dailey from the 9,218 inside who saw him score 23 points.

"That felt good," he said.

"The Bulls are saying they condone violence to women by signing Dailey," said Nettie Sabin of the "Take Back the Night Coalition." "We feel that Quintin is a symbol of violence against women and the fact that he has shown no remorse enrages us. This isn't a personal thing against Quintin Dailey, but against all violence toward women. He is a symbol."

Sabin said a larger demonstration is planned Nov. 20, when the Bulls will play the Detroit Pistons.

The group met with Bulls management Saturday to discuss the situation. It wants a public apology by Dailey and wants him out of the league for the duration of his probation. Sabin said the group would be willing to drop its request that Dailey be barred from playing if he received counseling. The group also asked Dailey and the Bulls to "set up a fund to compensate women and children who have been sexually assaulted" and that "the NBA and other sports organizations develop guidelines for acting responsibly in choosing players in the future."

Jonathan Kovler, executive vice president of the Bulls, said the pickets and demands "aren't upsetting or alarming. I am concerned, but we are taking their requests under advisement. There isn't much else I can say. "Our basic position has been that Quintin has been tried by the American system and the punishment given. He's a fine basketball player and he's been a good citizen."

Dailey hasn't talked publicly about the incident since June and when asked about it now, says, "I don't ever speak about that."

(The woman involved has filed a civil suit seeking $300,000 in damages and the attorneys for both sides are trying to settle out of court.)

Understandably, Dailey would rather talk about how difficult it is to play defense in the NBA.

"I didn't set any goals for myself this year," he said, "except to try and help us win some games."