Plum, 27, tells PEOPLE that her time with Cherelle in Chicago was limited, but the impact the conversation had on her was anything but.
“I didn’t get to talk to her extensively, but Cherelle was sitting right next to our bench and I gave her a hug during halftime,” Plum says. “And she just said, ‘Keep hooping. Go get it for my wife.’ And I really took that to heart.”
“When she said that, I was like, ‘I got you Cherelle. I’m with you,’ ” the Las Vegas Aces star shares.
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE’s free weekly newsletter to get the biggest news of the week delivered to your inbox every Friday.
With support from the WNBA, Cherelle has been tirelessly advocating for the safe return of her wife since Griner was arrested in Russia on February 17, by keeping the two-time Olympic medalist at the forefront of the conversation.
Plum dedicated her MVP performance to Griner after the game on social media. “When I won, I just posted like, ‘For BG,'” she says.
The uncertainty around Griner’s detainment continues to weigh heavily on the players who played alongside her for so long. “I know you probably never had a chance to be around Brittney or spend time with her, but what an amazing human and the situation is just devastating,” says Plum.
According to the 27-year-old athlete, players were told they could exchange their personal jerseys for Griner’s no. 42 for the second half of the game. The choice was a no-brainer for the women, Plum explains. “Without question, everyone was like, ‘Duh. Of course.’ No one even had to say a word and I think that speaks to who we are as a league.”
RELATED VIDEO: Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty to Russian Drug Charges: ‘I Did Not Want to Break the Law’
Griner was named an honorary all-star during the league’s showcase weekend. “Yeah, every now and then we’ll answer questions about All-Star and talk about basketball, but you’re going to see her name on the back of all of our shirts,” Sue Bird told reporters during a press conference. “We want it to always be there.”
Plum’s Las Vegas Aces teammate, A’ja Wilson, told reporters in Chicago, “It’s hard. It’s hard for all of us. It’s not easy. Not a day goes by that I’m not thinking about Brittney Griner. So wearing her jersey and letting the world know we are not whole without her, I think that’s a statement in itself.”
“When we are playing on ABC and ESPN, showing that it’s real and understanding that we are not going to stop until everyone understands how serious this really is,” said Wilson.
Griner’s trial in Russia began on July 1, and on Thursday the WNBA star pleaded guilty to smuggling drugs into the country, saying she did so “inadvertently.” She faces up to 10 years in prison if she is convicted.