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"I'm curious. What makes someone a "legend"?"
Only my opinion, but a legend is simply a popularity tag. People who capture the imagination of the majority in and given field are usually called legends.
Capturing the imagination may be due to personality, style, statistics, results (WC, wins etc.) or simply because people see you as one of them that "made it".
Most realistically, a combination of all the above.
Without igniting a whole new debate, one can see why Schwants is a "legend" because of how he road, the machinery disadvantages he road with, the riders he competed against and the stand and deliver rather than complain about it attitude.
A majority of GP lovers during his career, loved Schwants.