Quintin Dailey never let on that anything bothered him.

He said he was fine when his parents died within three weeks of each other when he was a high school sophomore.

He said he was fine when he pleaded guilty to assaulting a University of San Francisco nursing student last year.

He said he was fine when the Chicago press criticized him for showing no compassion for the woman.

He said he was fine when the demonstrations, pickets and harassment followed.

He said he was fine when he was evicted from his apartment.

Then, a week ago, Quintin Dailey wasn't fine any more. He talked about killing himself, his agent said.

"He called me on the telephone," said attorney-agent Bob Woolf of Boston. "He told me he wanted to end his life. He was crying and sobbing. I knew he was serious. I was scared and scared for him.

"Everything finally had taken its toll on him--all the harassment, all the accusations, all the pressure. His facade was always, 'I'm okay, I'm okay,' but he hasn't been okay."

On Tuesday, Dec. 7, Dailey failed to show up for the Chicago Bulls home game against the New York Knicks. When he was finally contacted, he said he had overslept.

Two days later, Dailey said he needed help. He said he was depressed and thinking of suicide.

He asked for and was granted a leave of absence and immediately began seeing a Chicago psychiatrist.

The Bulls announced last night that Dailey will rejoin the team Monday, but will continue to undergo therapy regularly.

Quintin Dailey is 21 years old, 6 feet 3 and a professional basketball player. He was a high school all-America at Cardinal Gibbons in Baltimore, a collegiate all-America at San Francisco and the first player picked by the Bulls in the last draft.

In 19 games as a rookie, before his leave of absence, Dailey averaged 15.6 points and four assists. The game has always been easy for him. Life has been harder. Basketball has been like a big eraser for him. Whatever went wrong could be made up for with a jump shot.

Dailey is polite and soft-spoken, but says he won't talk about his problems. "I'm doing what I have to do," he says. He refers all questions to Woolf, one of the best-known player representatives in the country; his clients include Larry Bird, Carl Yastrzemski, Darrell Griffith, Bill Cartwright and Dominique Wilkins.

"Quintin has some serious psychological problems, all of which won't be known until his psychiatrist finishes his examinations. That should be some time soon," Woolf said.

"Quintin is much better now that he is getting help than he was before. It's just that there's so much controversy surrounding him that there's no way for him to get out from under it."

Dailey's trouble began last year when a female student at USF charged him with "assault to commit rape, assault with intent to commit oral copulation, aggravated assault and willful and unlawful violation of personal liberty."

Dailey pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and the other charges were dropped in plea bargaining. He was given three years probation.

A $300,000 civil suit was filed by the victim. Both sides are trying to settle out of court.

Last year, Dailey also admitted that he was paid $1,000 a month for a job he never had to show up for while in school. That, in part, led to USF dropping its basketball program.

When Dailey flew to Chicago for a press conference to announce his signing after the college draft, the trouble deepened. Woolf had other business and couldn't be with Dailey in Chicago at the time.

"I was with him in New York the day of the draft and he handled the New York press fine," Woolf said. "I didn't think he'd have any trouble in Chicago." Woolf was wrong.

The impression Dailey left on the Chicago media was one of indifference and lack of compassion for the victim back in San Francisco. "It's a forgotten episode," Dailey said at the time, "so I don't concern myself."

Local women's groups and others were outraged. The Illinois chapter of the National Organization for Women met with the Bulls management in October and recommended Dailey seek counseling and that the Bulls state publicly that they didn't condone violence against women.

One of the Bulls owners, Jonathan Kovler, said at the time he would "take it under advisement." It is still apparently under advisement. "To say anything about it now wouldn't be that productive," he said last week.

When NOW got no satisfaction from the Bulls, demonstrations and pickets followed. They, and other groups, demonstrated at the Bulls training camp in Peoria, at the Bulls home opener at Chicago Stadium and at selected other games.

On the road there have been demonstrations in Milwaukee and Houston, hecklers in Denver and Salt Lake City. In San Antonio, two mockers simulated an assault--one was dressed as a nurse -- when Dailey was introduced before the game.

Dailey never complained and most of his teammates say Dailey merely ignored everything. They tried to ignore it, too.

"What else could we do?" guard Reggie Theus asked. "Quintin always seemed like it didn't bother him."

Dailey and another rookie with the Bulls, Rod Higgins of Fresno State, were roommates in a rented apartment in a condominium complex in Northbrook, an affluent, predominantly white Chicago suburb where several professional athletes and coaches live.

Before Dailey moved there, Woolf said Dailey had been rejected at three other places.

Last Wednesday, Dailey and Higgins unexpectedly received a letter from the condominium association, complaining that they were playing their music too loudly and spilling garbage in the trash room. Eviction followed.

Dailey and Higgins now live in nearby Glenview, in an apartment owned by Coby Dietrick, a former player for the Bulls who is playing in Europe this season.

"What do people want from Quintin?" Woolf asked. "He's gone through the judicial system and he's suffered financially and emotionally and every other way. Why should it go on? If people would just stop harassing him, he'd be all right. I think that, under the circumstances, that it would be extremely heartless and cruel for people to continue."

Anne Courtney, president of the Illinois chapter of NOW, said she doesn't want anything more from Dailey.

"We don't like to see this happen to him," she said, "but had the Bulls management lived up to its responsibilities to him, and to the public at large, this crisis in Quintin Dailey's career could have be avoided. It's the attitude that we found intolerable -- both his and the Bulls. No one showed any remorse. We just wanted someone to say they cared and that what happened was wrong. We didn't want to crucify Quintin Dailey, but we couldn't just look the other way, either."

Courtney said she has advised all chapters of NOW to stop picketing and demonstrating against Dailey, "because he is getting psychiatric help, which is what we sought. We didn't want him assaulting any more women and we don't want the Bulls to say nothing, as if they condone violence against women.

"What we are going to do now is address the problem of the Bulls. If they issue a public statement just saying that violence against women won't be tolerated, we'll be satisfied. They can be as general as they like. Quintin Dailey's name doesn't even have to be mentioned," she said. "This doesn't even have anything to do with Quintin Dailey anymore."

Kovler, the executive in charge of the day-to-day operation of the team, said, as he has been saying all along, that "it is under advisement." He added that the Bulls "are behind Dailey 100 percent. I like him personally and hope he can get this all worked out.

"The thing I'm most impressed with is that here's a guy 21 years old who has the courage to say he needs help. There are a lot of guys who don't realize it until it's too late. We aren't going to desert Quintin."

In the spring of his sophomore year in high school, Dailey's mother died of a stroke. Three weeks later, his father died after a long illness with lung cancer.

Dailey has three brothers. One, Rodney, is a graduate of West Point. When his parents died, Dailey went to live with an aunt, Mabel Payne.

Most people are leery of talking about Dailey for the record.

"I always found him to be a nice young man," Woolf said. "A year ago he was an all-American, well respected and admired and when all of this happened, people couldn't believe it. I trust him and believe in him. I will still stake my reputation on him. Will he have to pay for one incident forever and am I going to be condemned for standing behind him?"

The Golden State Warriors expressed an interest in acquiring Dailey a week ago.

"I don't think it's Chicago that's the problem," Woolf said. "It's a general attitude. Quintin likes the team he's on now, he likes Chicago and he wants to stay there. Getting traded won't solve anything."