NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 16, 2008 -- I think it's fair to say that the buzz surrounding this year's Sprite Slam Dunk competition is stronger than it has been in recent years.

Maybe it's all the viral video going around.

We had Rudy Gay asking for suggestions.

We had Jamario Moon teasing us by showing us that he can take off from a couple of feet beyond the free throw line, but not showing us what he can do after that.

We had Gerald Green offering Gay a couple of ideas.

And we had Dwight Howard with the most impressive video of all, one where he showed off two dunks that we've never seen before.

And that seems to be the theme this far: Nothing old. Something new. Fresh ideas are gold in this competion.

"I'm getting ideas from everybody," Green said. "I'm getting all ideas and I'm starting to listen a lot more and get them from everywhere."

Gay said the increased attention to the contest is a benefit.

"It's good," Gay said. "It's good for the dunk contest and it's good for us. Sometimes people take it for granted. But this year, you have four guys who want to go out and win it.

"And it's going to be fun."

Green got the idea for his 2007 first round, off-the-side-of-the-backboard dunk from his little brother. At first, Green didn't think he could do it, but the idea resulted in the best dunk of last year's competition in this writer's opinion, and helped Green earn the Slam Dunk title.

Of course, as we've seen in past competitions, if you get too desperate to do something new, it can turn out to be too gimicky. Witness Cedric Ceballos' blindfold dunk in 1992 or Michael Finley's cartwheel jam in 1997.

It's fine line, and with all this talk of doing something new, there's the possibility of going a little too far. Hopefully, these guys will know what's innovative, and what's not.

Green is the defending champ, and one would think that it would be difficult to come up with four more fresh ideas. But he claims that last year's competition didn't showcase all he could do.

"I didn't really go into my bag and get the stuff that I really wanted to get out," he said Friday. "I still got a few tricks up my sleeve."

If that doesn't intrigue you, maybe this will...

"I will say this," Green said. "The dunks I'm doing are a lot tougher this time."

Let the buzz continue.