Liberty Dealt Blow, Lose Brittany Boyd For Season

After Tuesday’s practice, Teresa Weatherspoon, arguably the toughest guard to ever don a New York Liberty jersey, was ruminating about the player who could one day claim that stature.

“I’m so proud of Brittany because she really invested in herself,’’ Spoon told MSGNetworks.com. “She hired a trainer. She hired a conditioning coach. She made an investment in herself.

“She always had that approach that she was going to do anything she had to do to kill you on the court. Kill you. Now she has the body and mind to go along with that. This is going to be the year everyone around the league knows that Brittany Boyd has arrived.’’

Unfortunately for the Liberty, that arrival has been delayed until next season.

An MRI exam performed yesterday on Boyd’s left leg revealed a torn Achilles tendon suffered in the waning minutes of Thursday night’s 90-71 loss to the Minnesota Lynx at The Garden. The MRI was performed at the Hospital for Special Surgery where she will have season-ending surgery on Monday.

Boyd, 23, was hurt on a non-contact play when her leg gave out awkwardly. She tried to put weight on it but clearly was in too much pain.

Boyd immediately was taken to the locker room. Several teammates and coach Bill Laimbeer offered their support, but only Boyd can fight her way back from an injury that will require a 10-to-12 month recovery process.

“Brittany suffered an unfortunate injury after working hard to come into this season prepared to lead our team from the point guard position,” Laimbeer said in a statement. “She had an excellent training camp and was poised for a breakout season, as evidenced by the way she performed in our first two games. We are all hoping for a speedy recovery.”

Boyd was one of five, third-year players that Laimbeer said could decide the fate of the season. He has proven commodities in Tina Charles, Kia Vaughn, Sugar Rodgers, Shavonte Zellous and Epiphanny Prince.

The emergence of Rebecca Allen, Cierra Burdick, Kiah Stokes, Amanda Zahui B. and Boyd were being counted on to tilt the franchise’s fortunes toward a first WNBA title.

Boyd was doing her part. She had won the starting point guard job. Laimbeer acknowledged after the final preseason game that Boyd had been the hardest worker in camp.

Boyd was second on the team this season in scoring at 13 points per game on 60-percent shooting from the field. She was averaging four rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals.

More than stats, Boyd brought a tenacious persona that was infectious. She hadn’t reached the level of Weatherspoon but she was on her way.

When asked her thoughts on Boyd, Charles didn’t hesitate.

“Energy,’’ she said. “I think the first thing that comes to my mind is energy. Just a hard worker, in everything she does. Her positive energy off the court and then just going into practice doing what the coaches need, just doing everything that I’ve asked of her.’’

The Liberty felt so good about their situation at point guard, which was a question mark at the start of training camp, that they released top draft choice Lindsay Allen, an All-American point guard from Notre Dame.

With Boyd, a healthy Prince (who is recovered from a torn ACL injury in her right knee suffered in 2015), Rodgers and the acquisition of Bria Hartley from Washington, New York was ready to win now.

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Prince could move into the starting lineup. Hartley has value coming off the bench at both guard spots. Allen has yet to sign with another team.

The Liberty will decide whether to bring back Allen or look for a more veteran guard. There isn’t another guard with Boyd’s toughness, talent and experience on the market.

New York (1-1) which plays at Phoenix on Tuesday and at Seattle on Friday, still believes it has enough talent to make a deep playoff run. But other players are going to have to step up to absorb the loss of Boyd.

“Man down, next man up,’’ said Rogers. “That goes for any team.’’

NOTES: Coach Bill Laimbeer turned 60 on Friday. His wife, Chris, surprised him by flying in their son, Eric and daughter, Keri.