The Crying Morrison meme will forever go down as a staple of UCLA fandom, right alongside the 8-Clap and 4s Up, Wooden’s Pyramid of Success and the Rose Bowl, Edney’s 4.8 seconds and 13-9.

Watching Adam Morrison tangle with the realities of fallibility during the closing seconds of the 2006 Sweet 16 matchup between the Bruins and Gonzaga Bulldogs will forever be 1 of the foremost examples of schadenfreude in the history of sports.

UCLA fans bask in those tears.

They drink those tears.

They get fall-down drunk from those tears.

“Heartbreak City,” Gus Johnson called it, and over the years and over the tears, that game remains a lasting moment for the programs and players who played in it.

Morrison’s postgame waterworks are a thing of the ancient past though. That’s 17 years ago now.

The recent history between UCLA and Gonzaga?

That’s enough to make the Bruins sing the same sad song.

But how can one cry if he’s not willing to engage in the pain?

Maybe Mick Cronin is a Zen master on the level of a Buddha. Maybe he’s immune to self-loathing. Maybe he just doesn’t want to go back to the Bad Place.

But when asked on Tuesday about UCLA’s latest heartbreak in the hard-fought series — Jalen Suggs’ banked half-court dagger as time expired in the 2021 Final Four, just seconds after Johnny Juzang tied the overtime matchup at 90 — Cronin displayed his patented wry humor. He has maintained he never re-watched that ending, and he continued that line in a press conference with reporters.

“No, I studied the game last night, (but) I hit pause as soon as we tied it,” Cronin said. “What the hell do I need to watch that for? You think I’m a masochist?”

He’s either lying through his teeth or the most evolved person I’ve ever met in my life. I would be watching Suggs break my heart on repeat, just to feel something.

Certainly, his UCLA juniors and seniors remember that painful finish, which concluded arguably the program’s best NCAA Tournament run in its illustrious history, and that includes 11 national championships. The 2021 Bruins entered March Madness on the brink, a First Four entrant and an 11 seed, expected to make about as much noise as short grass in a light breeze.

This was not the Kareem Bruins or the Walton Bruins or even the Alfred Aboya Bruins.

Instead, they became the 1st team to go from the First Four to the Final Four, beating Michigan State, BYU, Abilene Christian, Alabama and Michigan in consecutive weeks, with a pair of overtime games (MSU and Alabama) and a 2-point win over the Wolverines.

“We might not have been the best team in the country all year, but we became one of the best four teams in the country, period,” Cronin said after the game, his chin held high. “This was not a fluke tonight.”

UCLA walked a tightrope for an entire tournament and finally toppled at the very end, on 1 of the all-time shots in college hoops history. For some programs, it would be enough to cause a tailspin. You get that close and watch it end in that way, and some players aren’t ever the same.

Not these guys.

Not Cronin’s Bruins.

“Obviously, everybody’s going to ask what I just told my team,” Cronin said after that game. “So, I’ll just tell you. I just told them they’ve got to let the last shot go. And as much as they want to be beat down right now and gutted and miserable, they’ve got to let it go because they’re winners. They won.”

Cronin somehow let that shot go that night, and he hasn’t picked it back up since.

And that would be perfect.

The end of the story.

UCLA, seeking revenge in Hollywood fashion, just up I-15 in Las Vegas, fresh off a trip to Sin City for the Pac-12 Tournament, but now with Adem Bona back in full effect.

It’s a screenplay.

Except for 1 thing.

The Bruins lost to the Zags last season, too.

By 20.

Blown out of the water.

UCLA isn’t just facing recent history. It must face reality: The Bruins are 1-4 against Gonzaga since the start of the 2015 season. Argue what you will about the best in the West — Gonzaga, UCLA, Arizona, San Diego State, Oregon — but how can the Bruins be above the Zags when they’ve suffered 3 losses of more than a dozen points to Mark Few and Co. since 2015?

Last season, the then-2nd-ranked and 5-0 Bruins met the top-ranked Bulldogs in the Good Sam Empire Classic at T-Mobile Arena, and Gonzaga was up 20 points at the half. Just a half-year removed from heartache, UCLA was faced with embarrassment. It’s 1 thing to lose by 3 on 1 of the great shots ever.

It’s another thing to lose by 20 while barely showing a pulse.

That’s what UCLA is facing on Thursday, back in Las Vegas, with a chance for just its 2nd Elite Eight since 2008. A Gonzaga team that features many — but not all — of the same faces who played in last season’s game. Gone are guard Andrew Nembhard, who had a game-high 24 points in the rout, as well as No. 2 NBA Draft pick Chet Holmgren, who had 15 points, 6 rebounds and 4 blocks.

Also missing for the Bruins will be a host of players, including last season’s starters Juzang, Myles Johnson and Jules Bernard, as well as 1st-round pick Peyton Watson and Jaylen Clark, UCLA’s top defender this season who was lost for the year with an Achilles injury suffered in the last game of the regular season.

In many ways, this game is completely new, altogether separate from the memorable matchups of the past, and should be treated as such. In other ways, these 2 teams are inexorably linked. You couldn’t pry their history apart with a crowbar.

Both teams have to have short memories — and long ones — to continue their NCAA Tournament journeys.

“Look, if you’re not ready to play now, I don’t know what — we need to check you into Ronald Reagan (UCLA Medical Center), check your heartbeat,” Cronin said. “This is what it’s all about. We (are) four games away from hanging a 12th banner, that’s how we look at it, that’s how we talk about it. Everything we do is to try to get to a point where we can win six in March. We’ve won two, now (three is) on Thursday. Man, I don’t know why you would come here if you’re not gonna be ready to play on Thursday.”