Dailey followed in the footsteps of Bill Russell, K.C. Jones, and Bill Cartwright when he achieved All-American honors for the University of San Francisco. But in other ways he followed his own path. None of Dailey’s predecessors was convicted of sexual assault while playing for the Dons, or was paid $1,000 a month for a job that didn’t exist, or caused the university president to become so ashamed of the basketball program that he found it necessary to kill it off for three years.
Just three days after his conviction for drunkenly assaulting a female student in her dorm room at USF, Dailey became the Bulls’ first pick (seventh overall) in the 1982 NBA draft. Dailey told reporters that he had pleaded guilty only to stay out of jail, that he felt no remorse, and that he had already forgotten the incident.
"I was there when Quintin came in as a rookie,” teammate Dave Corzine recalled, “and unfortunately he had some issues that really made it more challenging for him than most.” Eventually, Dailey coughed up $100,000 and an apology to the woman he’d assaulted, and he played well enough to make the NBA’s All-Rookie team. Unfortunately, his self-induced problems continued.
Dailey frequently showed up late for practices or missed them altogether. He once failed to show up for a game, only to be found hiding in a closet in his townhouse. He added 30 pounds to his six-foot-three, 180-pound frame, twice violated the league’s substance-abuse policy, and even attempted suicide. “I had to learn life by trial and error as I went along,” Dailey later said. “I erred a lot.”
When Michael Jordan made his NBA debut on October 26, 1984, it was Dailey, not Jordan, who carried the Bulls to victory with 25 points (including 12 in the fourth quarter). But before long, Jordan proved that he would be the Bulls’ go-to guy from then on. It was a bitter pill for Dailey, who was used to having the ball in his hands when the game was on the line. He publicly complained that the Bulls’ coaches and organization were “favoring” Jordan. “I’m a player who likes to shine a bit myself,” he explained.
Dailey left the Bulls after the 1985-86 season and played six more years without much success. He was just 31 years old when his career ended. “He had so much talent and was such a great basketball player,” Corzine said. “Unfortunately for him, he had issues off the floor. He never reached his full potential. A lot of his personal issues kept getting in the way of his basketball success.”