The gold isn't in question anymore. It never really was, unless Kobe Bryant ate some bad Beijing duck or Dwyane Wade got lost at the Great Wall.
We're past that now, anyway. Got over it about the same time LeBron James threw down yet another tomahawk dunk against a Spanish team that seemed bewildered to be in the same building with the American superstars.
We've moved on because it doesn't make much sense to compare this team with Spain, Germany, Greece or even China.
No one really cares how they match up against Argentina.
The rest is all just a formality. The biggest goal of their opponents in their final three games will not be to win, but to avoid being embarrassed.
That shouldn't surprise anyone who has watched this team roll over its first five Olympic opponents, including the reigning world champions from Spain and the Greek team that beat them two years ago in the world championship.
I've been saying it all along, ever since watching how well these players got along and how hard they worked in training camp in Las Vegas. The talent was indisputable, but so was the raging desire to win that never surfaced in the team that barely got a bronze four years ago in Athens.
From his home in Louisiana, Karl Malone couldn't help but notice, too. He's watched the highlights of the games, watched the interviews of the players.
And he knows something about loaded teams on a mission.
"I'll say this right here," Malone said. "No matter what, our guys are going to win the gold."
That, of course, was an absolute guarantee back in 1992 when the floodgates opened, NBA stars were allowed into the Olympics for the first time and Malone found himself playing alongside the likes of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Charles Barkley.
John Stockton was there, too, just in case anybody needed an assist.
Nobody had ever seen a team like this, not that it mattered that much because the rest of the world wasn't very good to begin with. Sure, Lithuania had a few decent players and some cool tie-dyed uniforms, but for the most part the world had little to counter players so revered that opponents asked for autographs after games.
"If people could have watched our practices they would have paid who knows how much to get in," Malone said. "For us, the games were just an appetizer for the next day's practice."
The games were all mismatches, of course, a dizzying exhibition of pressure defense, slick passing and spectacular dunking. Croatia was the final victim, led to a ceremonial slaughter eased only by the knowledge it would get the silver.
We'd never see anything like this again, or so we thought.
Four Olympics later, it's happening all over again.
The shorts are baggier and the names have changed. What hasn't changed is the intense will to win that Jordan, Malone and his teammates had then and that Bryant, Wade and their teammates have now.
The original Dream Team averaged 117 points a game and won by an average of 46. Against much improved competition, this team is averaging 103 points a game and winning by an average of 32.
Jordan created havoc and fear every time he stepped on the court in Barcelona. Bryant does the same now in Beijing.
Jordan and his teammates played stifling defense, and took it as a personal affront if they let up an easy basket.
The same goes for Bryant and this team.
"I love the mix they have to this team. It resembles our team," Malone said. "No one cares who gets credit for what. No one cares how many minutes they play or how many points you score. You check your egos at the door."
So far this team has done just that, which was precisely the intention of Jerry Colangelo and company when they put it together. They wanted stars who would bond and cover each other's backs first, and they got just what they were looking for.
Three games remain to crown this team Olympic champions.
Three games remain, with little to do now but debate its place in history.
That place likely will be on the same elevated plateau as the original Dream Team, though they seem to understand that there will always just be one of those.
They're not Dream Team II because that act already played out in Atlanta to rave reviews. Malone was on that team, winning a gold medal playing alongside the best trio of centers you'll ever see in Hakeem Olajuwan, Shaquille O'Neal and David Robinson.
Don't call them the Redeem Team, either, because that's a manufactured title that cheapens what they're doing here. This isn't about revenge for 2004 or 2006, simply dominance for 2008.
Malone will just call them good, awfully good. He could even see this team giving the original Dream Team a close game.
And who would win?
"Did you interrupt my coffee just to ask me that question?" he said. "Are you kidding me?"
is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org
Gold not in question, but legacy of U.S. men's basketball team is