NEW YORK (AP) _ A Manhattan judge signed an order of protection Monday that requires Charlotte Hornets basketball star Anthony Mason to stay away from two men with whom he scuffled outside a Harlem bar last month.

State Supreme Court Justice Analisa Torres signed the order directing Mason to keep clear of Albert McGibboney and Basil Parker, who say Mason, 33, beat and kicked them outside Perks Bar around 4 a.m. on Feb. 26.

Torres allowed Mason, charged with two counts of misdemeanor assault, to remain free on $1,000 bail. The judge signed the same order for Mason's codefendant, William Leary, 26, and also let him remain free on $1,000 bail.

Torres warned that the complainants must leave Mason alone, too. ``This order of protection is not a sword,'' she said. ``It is a shield.''

At the request of Mason's lawyer, Frank Rothman, the judge postponed the defendant's next court date. Rothman asked her to allow Mason, a former New York Knicks forward who was traded to the Hornets in 1996, to be available if he is needed for the NBA playoffs.

Rothman said outside court that he learned McGibboney and Parker have retained civil attorneys and may file a civil damages suit against his client. He did not know the names of the lawyers.

Noting Mason's ``bad boy reputation'' and the fact that he earns $5 million to $10 million a year, Rothman said his client ``is an easy target'' for people who want to provoke Mason and then sue him.

Rothman told the judge that Mason's party included about five people, while the group that allegedly started the fight included about 10 to 20 men. Three men from the rival group were charged with misdemeanor assault.

Rothman said Mason, a New York native who is 6-foot-8, 280 pounds, was trying stop the fight when he was arrested.

``Anthony was trying to pull people apart,'' Rothman said. ``When the fight started, he was outside. When police arrived they asked him to help pull people apart, and that's what he was doing.''