Brittany Boyd’s face flashed on the big screens overhead inside Madison Square Garden last Sunday. The PA announcer told the crowd it was her birthday, and she smiled from her seat behind the Liberty bench.
But this wasn’t truly a happy No. 24 for her despite the win over Seattle. There was some pain behind that smiling face.
“This is what I love to do,” Boyd said Tuesday from the Liberty’s Westchester training facility. “So not being on the court is hard.”
The 5-9 point guard out of Cal is still trying to come to terms with the result from the game against the Minnesota Lynx at the Garden on May 18. Boyd tore her left Achilles’ tendon. Her third WNBA season was over after two games. She underwent surgery four days later. The recovery time is nine-to-12 months.
“Right now, I’m still taking it all in,” Boyd said, fresh off an exercise bike for the first time since the operation. “Knowing how hard I worked this offseason to prepare myself for this season, I think that’s really kind of where I’m struggling to find peace at.”
After scoring 10 points in the opening win against San Antonio, Boyd was powering a fourth-quarter comeback in the loss to the Lynx, scoring eight of her 16 points. Then she dribbled off a screen and suddenly went down. She tried to get up, then went back down again.
“I thought I just needed to walk it off,” Boyd said.
Her career seemed to be taking off. The Liberty made her the ninth overall pick in 2015. Boyd broke her left wrist in the fifth-to-last regular-season game that year and underwent season-ending surgery. But she made the all-rookie team.
She brought a lot of energy, intensity, speed and defense in her first two seasons, mostly off the bench. Her combined averages were modest — 6.6 points, 3.0 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals.
Boyd started the first two games this season. She could think bigger after finally understanding coach Bill Laimbeer’s system.
“She was going to have [what] appeared to be a breakout year for herself,” Laimbeer said. “She spent two years learning, making herself a better player.”
“That’s the hardest part,” Boyd said. “I started to figure it out, and then it was just boom . . . ”
Now she gets around on a scooter or with a crutch. Her teammates try to lift her spirits.
“I think if anybody is able to handle it, it’s her,” Tina Charles said.
Laimbeer said he has been told by the team’s medical people that the tear wasn’t “dramatic,” and he thinks “she’ll be able to go by training camp.”
Boyd will put in the sweat. She’s determined to play at a high level next year after this long timeout.
“I think that’s my demeanor in life in general, like nothing can really keep me down for too long,” Boyd said. “I just think that God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. So this is just a minor setback before a major comeback.”