June 11 was a bittersweet day for Brittany Boyd.
The New York Liberty guard celebrated her 23rd birthday. It was not the celebration she had in mind.
After tearing her Achilles tendon in a freak injury on May 18, Boyd decided to take a seat behind the team bench next to assistant coach Teresa Weatherspoon.
Since suffering the injury, Boyd had opted to stay in the trainer’s room and watch the video feed.
Symbolically, if nothing else, sitting courtside was one of the first significant steps of Boyd’s recovery.
“It’s hard,’’ Boyd said Tuesday afternoon on a conference call. “I want to be out on the court. This is my job. This is what I want to do. This is what I love to do so not being able to be on the court is hard but also not being on the court, sitting on the bench with Spoon I’m learning a lot and I’m seeing a different game from a different view.
“It’s good to learn. I’m learning more about the system, Bill [Laimbeer’s] system, what he wants and just trying to figure out the ins and outs of everything, but I feel like I’m learning. I’m learning more than just playing which is a good thing.’’
Boyd was off to a terrific start in her third season. She had won the starting point guard job in training camp and was averaging 13 points on 60-percent shooting from the floor (9-of-15) with five assists, three steals and just two turnovers.
But in the waning minutes of a 90-71 loss to the Minnesota Lynx in The Garden, Boyd went down on a non-contact play. She tried to get up, but realized she couldn’t put weight on her left leg. She told the trainers she thought she had been kicked and just needed to walk it off.
If only that had been the case. Boyd underwent successful surgery on May 22.
“Right now, I’m still taking it all in,’’ Boyd said. “Knowing how hard I worked all offseason to prepare myself for this season, I think that’s really kind of where I’m struggling to find peace.
“I know my teammates and this organization have been great these past three weeks. I know there’s something better at the end of the road.’’
Boyd had gone ‘all-in’ for this season. She hired a trainer and a conditioning coach, trying to assure her third season would be her breakout. It was all coming together.
“She always had that approach that she was going to do anything she had to do to kill you on the court, kill you,’’ Weatherspoon told MSGNetworks.com earlier this season.
Boyd will need that strength and resiliency now more than ever. Tuesday was her first day riding the stationary bike and shooting from a stationary position.
She can walk short distances while in a boot with the aid of a crutch. For longer distances, she needs a scooter.
This is just the start of a lengthy and arduous recovery.
“I feel like I was finding my way,’’ Boyd said. “You know the first two years I was having my ups and downs but I learned and I watched and I had great leadership in front of me. I was starting to figure it out and that’s the hardest part. I was on my way and then just, ‘Boom!’’’
Boyd said she doesn’t know if she’ll be ready to play by the starting of training camp next season. What she does know is that is determined to return at a higher level.
“I wake up every day saying that,’’ Boyd said. “When I was in the training room when it happened, that’s my demeanor with life. When challenges come my way I don’t shy away from it, I don’t try back down.”
NOTES: The Liberty (6-3) play at the Connecticut Sun (3-5) Wednesday night (Live coverage gets under way at 7 p.m on MSG+). This is the first game of a stretch in which New York will play six of its next seven on the road. The Liberty have beaten the Sun nine straight times.